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On a recent outing I discovered a number of these.

Essentially, you look through the hole in the middle and you are facing a landmark, city, specific location, etc.

Whilst this one is clearly modern, I am sure this type of thing existed historically.

Do they have a name? The place I saw them doesn't have them named anywhere I could see.

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These aren't natural formations? – Mitch Dec 24 '13 at 15:34
@Mitch Haha! They may well be! – Ste Dec 24 '13 at 15:36
Cf. the late Old Man of the Mountain, a long but now destroyed New Hampshire tourist attraction. – Robusto Dec 24 '13 at 15:37
@Robusto - Yeah, but look! Mine has METAL! – Ste Dec 24 '13 at 15:39
This looks like some sort of "henge". – Brad Dec 24 '13 at 16:23
up vote 10 down vote accepted

Many years ago my friends and I used to pore over local maps looking for potential ley lines. We'd select one for "on-site" investigation, then get out and walk along it - usually for several miles.

I was always struck by how often we were able to use footpaths, bridle paths, turnstiles, etc., and how often we encountered striking views across the landscape, and geodetic monuments.

geodetic monument - a stone or concrete pillar that marks a true place of trigonometric points.

Here's a Wikipedia page on the Peirce Geodetic Monument. Such points won't always offer a clear view to a notable landmark. But they're always precisely positioned in relation to something, so very often this will be the case.

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Why thank you, sir! I knew there was a name other than "trig points". – Ste Dec 24 '13 at 15:54

"Geodetic monument" does not apply to the viewfinder shown in the photograph. Unlike the archaeological (i.e., old and the consequence of human activity) monuments in the photograph, a geodetic monument is simply for designating the precise location of specific latitude-longitude and/or elevation coordinates. Nothing of the kind is visible or implied in this illustration. Such monuments were commonly erected during the surveys establishing boundaries, for instance: large enough to remain in place and to bear the carved or affixed coordinates of that location, but certainly not the mammoth features shown here.

I recommend "viewfinder" for this means of focusing the visitor's gaze upon the distance feature. I've never seen one during my extensive travels in the U.S. and Canada. How nice to see this rather than the coin-operated telescope that is common here.

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