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How Many Links in a Scottish Chain?

Discover the enduring significance of Scottish chains, a traditional unit of length, and their continued usage in select regions of Scotland.

Understanding Scottish Chains

Scottish Chain: A Scottish chain, with a length of 66 feet, is equivalent to the renowned Gunter’s chain. These chains are still employed for land measurement and other distance-related applications in specific areas of Scotland.

Historical Roots of Scottish Chains

  • Invention: Scottish chains are believed to have originated in the 17th century.
  • Wide Adoption: Surveyors and land surveyors in Scotland swiftly embraced the Scottish chain, establishing it as the standard unit of length for land measurement.

Scottish Chains in Modern Times

Continued Use: Although replaced by the English mile in much of Scotland during the 18th century, Scottish chains continue to have relevance, particularly in the Highlands and Islands.

Applications of Scottish Chains

  • Land Measurement: Farmers, surveyors, and landowners utilize Scottish chains to determine the length and breadth of plots of land.
  • Surveying: Surveyors rely on Scottish chains to gauge distances accurately.
  • Cultural Heritage: Scottish chains provide a tangible link to Scotland’s historical measurement practices.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is the relationship between a Scottish chain and a Gunter’s chain?

A Scottish chain and a Gunter’s chain are equivalent in length, both measuring 66 feet.

Why did Scottish chains persist in certain regions of Scotland after the adoption of the English mile?

Regional preferences and cultural factors contributed to the continued use of Scottish chains in areas like the Highlands and Islands.

Are there specific guidelines for converting between Scottish chains and other units of length?

To convert Scottish chains to feet, simply multiply the number of chains by 66 feet, as one Scottish chain is equivalent to 66 feet.

Are Scottish chains officially recognized in modern measurement systems outside of Scotland?

While not commonly used in most countries, Scottish chains are still employed in certain regions of Scotland for practical purposes.


Scottish chains, with their historical origins and enduring relevance, provide a unique glimpse into Scotland’s measurement heritage. Although they were largely replaced by the English mile, these chains continue to be valued tools for land measurement and surveying in select regions, preserving a cultural and historical connection to Scotland’s past.

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