Couple making their mark on coast road’s hidden heritage

Martin and Marian Skillings with the milestone at Brancaster Staithe. Picture: Ian Burt

Martin and Marian Skillings with the milestone at Brancaster Staithe. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

Drivers on the beautiful A149 coast road in north-west Norfolk have plenty to look at with the stunning coastline and countryside. But one couple looked a bit deeper and discovered that one of the route's attractions was being neglected – the milestones, which mark each mile along the route.

Martin Skillings, 66, and Miranda Skillings, 63, who live in Brancaster, are restoring all the milestones on the A149 between Wells and Hunstanton. They have already straightened, restored and repainted seven along the route.

Several milestones are missing and they estimate they have 17 left to tend to. In the future, they hope to continue their restoration work on stones all the way to King's Lynn.

The couple are members of the Milestone Society, which preserves the landmarks and tries to help with any costs incurred.

Mrs Skillings said: 'I walked parts of the route for years with my dog. Some of the milestones were in a terrible state and we wanted to repair them, as they are part of our history.'

During restoration work they found that two milestones were missing, and are calling for help from the public to relocate them.

She added: 'One of these was near Gypsy Green, Hunstanton. It consisted of a buried stump devoid of its upper lettered section, which should state, 'King's Lynn 17 miles'.

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'It's possible this piece has been removed and relocated for ornamental purposes, safe-keeping or been used as a step.'

Further afield, they have also been unable to trace the milestone north of the Lamsey Lane/A149 junction at Heacham.

Feedback from residents and holidaymakers on the refurbished stones has been very positive, she added.

Carol Haines, Norfolk representative for the Milestone Society, said: 'We appreciate what they are doing and will help them as much as we can.'

The first milestones were obelisks which marked distances along Roman roads. turnpikes, and were erected in the 18th and 19th centuries.

A plaque near the Eleanor Cross at Charing Cross, London, is used to measure distances from other towns and cities from the capital.

Do you know what happened to the two missing milestones? Email