Jostle Stone Survey (Heritage Week 2021)

In cooperation with OpenStreetMap Ireland, KAS have agreed to hold a Heritage Week event surveying jostle stones in Co. Kilkenny (other historical societies are invited to join in, though).

What are jostle stones aka guard stones?

A row of jostle stones in Marburg, Germany
A row of jostle stones in Marburg, Germany © LudwigSebastianMicheler, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Jostle stones were used in the times of horse drawn carriages to avoid collisions of the carriage with walls and thus preventing the walls to be damaged. They are witnesses of those times at lane and gate entrances, along walls and on bridges. They can be made of local stone, imported stone, metal and (rarely) wood. Sometimes, you can still see traces of where the wheel has damaged the jostle stone. These days, you sometimes also see traces of cars colliding with them.

Why should they be recorded?

Jostles stones are important part of our architectural heritage and are very often overlooked in the streetscape. So much so, that most people won’t even know what they are called any more. Having a record of where jostles stones are in your vicinity will reveal something about the age of lanes and whether horse drawn carriages used to be driven on them.

Looking for jostles stones for the purposes of a survey will heighten the awareness for this type of street furniture.

Why use OpenStreetMap?

OpenStreetMap logo
OpenStreetMap logo

OpenStreetMap is an OpenData and OpenSource geographical database which was established in 2004. It is designed to be easily accessible so that anyone with a computer and an internet connection can contribute to it (a smartphone will do by now). Because it is OpenSource, many related projects have been developed to make it even more accessible like FieldPapers and uMap. Once the data is added, anyone can use it for their own projects for free, the only condition being that OpenStreetMap is attributed using “© OpenStreetMap Contributors”. It is the source of maps in many SatNav systems, the Heritage Council, the OPW,, and many, many more.

How do I participate?

If you want to help survey in Kilkenny, Callan or Castlecomer, you can pick up your survey maps at reception in Rothe House. The survey maps for Graiguenamanagh will be available in Graiguenamanagh library. You will be provided with a clip board. Then, you go for a stroll along the streets on your survey map, indicating your findings on the map. You can then follow the tutorial below and add your findings to yourself or hand your survey back in and someone with more technical know-how will take over from there. It would also be useful, if you took pictures of them.

If you want to run your own survey project elsewhere, also follow the tutorials and the other tutorials provided on Anne’s channel on YouTube. Let us know about your results, so we can include them in the post-project “report”! Click here to see how many are recorded in Ireland already.

Since jostle stones are a somewhat specialist interest, they may not be shown on OpenStreetMap directly, so we will create a uMap of all the surveyed ones at the end of the project and share it here. We can add the name of the surveyor to each entry, so you know which ones you contributed.