Metes and Bounds

The metes and bounds system is based on a verbal or written description of the boundary using land marks visible at the time. The description includes a point of beginning (POB), such as a rock, tree, stake, or post, and lengths and bearings of successive lines from this point. Lengths may be paces or in units of chains, poles, or rods. As the technology available for surveying improved, these units were replaced by feet and inches, decimal feet or metric measurements. The bearings may be magnetic, true, or grid. True or grid bearings are the preferred type. To read or write land descriptions with the metes and bounds system, the units used and the type of bearing used must be known.

A typical description might read as follows: "beginning at the large rock about 2 min walk northly from the creek, thence easterly 100 paces to the red oak tree, thence southerly 250 paces to a large partially buried rock, thence westerly to the creek and follow the creek northly to the point of beginning." The dilemma that anyone faces trying to trace the boundaries many years later should be obvious. Creeks change course, trees are removed, rocks can be dug out or covered when land leveling.

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