Tag Archives: Struve Geodetic Arc

Two papers on the Struve Geodetic Arc

Some time ago I got an interesting response on the posts Struve Geodetic Arc part 1 and part 2. Vitali Kaptüg sent me two papers on the Struve Meridian. Thanks!

I of course got interested in who Vitali Kaptüg is, he is from Russia and is the secretary to the Board of the St. Petersburg Society for Surveying & Mapping and was in charge with the compilation of the national documents for the FIG-UNESCO project “Struve Geodetic Arc” (SGA).

My desk’s been a bit over crowed the last few weeks but now I’ve read the papers that if I’ve understand are either based on two seminars held at  FIG Working Week 2008 in Stockholm earlier this summer or written for the occation.

Paper # 1; On Comparison of the three Meridian Arcs in Lapland. 

  • – The paper concerns the accuracies of the historic measurements made by Maupertuis, Svanberg and Selander in the 18th and 19th century. The first two measurements are well documented whilst the last is less known.


  • – To asses the measurements re-measurement has been used. In this case it was possible as the previous measurer had marked their point in different ways, for examples crosses in the bedrock, church towers etc. Though some are easy to find some are more difficult and others are lost.


  • – The comparison shows that all measurements are pretty close and demonstrates a successively improving technique of measurement.

Though the text is somewhat technical it is rather easy to understand, it gives a good picture how the measurements was done, their strength and weaknesses and the results. It’s a combination of social history and natural science. The mathematic and the formulas flew a bit over my head, but all in all an interesting paper on if nothing else science history.

Paper #2;  Index of field and other important manuscripts relating to the Scandinavian segment of the world heritage monument “Struve Geodetic Arc2”. 

  • – In this paper Kaptüg presents the result of archive studies in Russia, Norway and Sweden regarding the field works carried out between 1845-1852.


  • – SGA operations were carried out over a period of 40 years, from 1816-1855 so the archive material is vast.


  • – In the article the archives of interest is presented, a where to find what guide.


  • – Kaptüg believes that he has identified and found most of the documents that has survived in Russia. The work has shown that there are interesting documents to be found in Norway and Sweden, hopefully, at least there is proof of that it has existed, for example “22 hæften Selanders och Agardhs och Skogsmans gradmåtningsjournaler I Lappland 1846-1852″ (22 booklets Selander’s and Agradh’s and Skogman’s latitude measurement journals in Lappland 1846-1852) which is said to hold a complete amount of the field registers relating to the SGA Lapland segment.

Perhaps not as easy to read as the first, it’s more of an account but still it holds some interesting facts regarding the measurements, where to find more information etc.

I found a lot of information that I hadn’t before which has give a better background and understanding of how the work was carried out and about the effort these pioneers did.

Many thanks to Vitali Kaptüg for the articles

Magnus Reuterdahl

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