Åk 6–9
2.3 Old Units of Measure
In Sweden, we used to use measurement units that are not used today.

An ell is 59.4 cm.

In 1605, the ell was nationally standardized.  In 1655, a standard measurement system was introduced so that the ell was the main unit of measure to which all other measurements should be related.  It was the “basic measure” until the end of the 1800’s when the metric system was introduced.

Fjärdingsväg (Losely translated to Spring’s way or flow)
A fjärdingsväg is 2,672 m.

A fjärdingsväg was a fourth of the old Swedish mile, about 10,688 meter.

A step is 90 cm.

Cable length
A cable length is 185.2 m.

A cable length was a measurement when at sea.  A cable length was originally 100 fathoms = 178 m. 

Later a cable length was set to 185.2 m = 1/10 nautical mile.

Stone’s throw
A stone’s throw is 40-50 m.

This measurement approximated how far a person could throw a medium sized rock.  The usual measurement for the stone’s throw was 50 steps, usually 40-50 meters.  A saying from Småland: He who sees a fight from a stone’s cast is not a valid witness.

A finger is 1.85 cm.

A thumb is 2.47 cm.

Thumb is an old system of measurement which can be determined by the width of a man’s thumb.  According to the system in 1665,
1 thumb = 2.474 cm, in other words 1/12 foot.  In 1855 though,
1 thumb =  2.969 cm, in other words 1/10 foot.

A hand is 8-10 cm.

1 hand = 4 thumbs = 8-10 cm. A hand was the usual measurement and was used for among others to determine the thickness of ice.

A foot is 29.69 cm.

1 quarter 14.4 cm.

One fathom is 1.78 m.

A fathom is also the old unit of measurement at sea.
A Swedish fathom is 6 feet = 3 ells = 1.78 meters.

Fathom was used as a measurement for the water depths which was determined when sounding lines.