Reader Philippa Smith passed along this photograph she took, asking if this stone really dates to 1729. This is one of the Boston area milestones, and yes, it does date to
1729. They are scattered around the Boston area, and you can find
documentation at the Library of Congress. Here is a drawing of the Four Mile Stone. And here are maps and drawings of all the known stones in the Boston area recorded by the Historic American Buildings Survey.
This stone marked the route to Cambridge--there were no bridges across the Charles River in 1729, so someone coming from Cambridge would have gone down a road running along what is now Huntington Avenue to present day Tremont Street at Brigham Circle, on to Dudley Square and then taken present day Washington Street into Boston, which accounts for the 4 miles to Boston. This map shows the route from the Meeting House in Roxbury to Cambridge. The distance was measured to the Townhouse, better known to us today as the Old State House. The initials "P. D." on the stone are a mystery. If one looks at the pictures of other stones one will see initials, hearts, and other symbols, the meanings of which are lost to us today. This stone was carved out of Roxbury puddingstone, a local stone which was quarried for many years on Mission Hill--there is now a park at one of the quarry sites. One wonders why the stonecarver would have chosen puddingstone because conglomerate rock is difficult to work with, as shown by the damage suffered by the milestone over the years.