Study Buddy (Challenger): Authenticity nod for 3 more boundary stones marking Hong Kong’s first colonial settlement

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The boundary stone in Mount Nicholson has been added to the list of government historic sites. Photo: Hong Kong History Study Circle

Content provided by British Council

Read the following text, and answer questions 1-9 below:

[1] The authenticity of three boundary stones once used to mark the limits of Hong Kong’s first colonial settlement has been confirmed, after the relics were uncovered by groups of history lovers. The Antiquities and Monuments Office said last month that its staff had visited the three sites at Lung Fu Shan, Mount Davis and Mount Nicholson, and recorded the details of the stones.

[2] It confirmed the “City Boundary 1903” inscriptions on the three stones, noting the construction style was similar to others recorded. The items have been added to the list of government historic sites. “All proponents of new public works would have to study whether their projects would have an impact on the sites beforehand,” the office said.

[3] Seven such stones were found earlier, marking out the City of Victoria, Hong Kong’s first urban settlement after it became a British colony. The boundary of the settlement was gazetted in 1903. Boundary stones were often used to mark the limits between districts, communities, countries and private land. One of the previously discovered seven stones went missing in 2007 during slope renovation work.

[4] Stanley Lee Chak-yan, leader of the Hong Kong History Study Circle involved in the discovery of one of the latest stones, expressed excitement at news of the authenticity nod. Lee and six of his members had set out for the hunt in mid-December and found the ninth stone on Mount Nicholson, after another group located the eighth one at Lung Fu Shan on The Peak a week earlier.

[5] Lee’s group also found the tenth on Mount Davis after meeting a couple who came across it. “Some of our friends had tried to locate the stones before but failed,” Lee, a former worker in the catering industry, said. “Many of these locations have turned into forests ... It is hard to spot them even at a 100-metre distance.”

[6] The City of Victoria spanned present-day Central, Sai Wan, Sheung Wan and Wan Chai. Historians have said the boundary stones signified the beginning of urban development, extending to the hills on Hong Kong Island. The experts have also called for site preservation.

[7] Before the trip, Lee’s group dug out maps from the Lands Department dating back to the 1960s, which showed the demarcation of the City of Victoria, so they could narrow down their search to Mount Davis and Mount Nicholson.

[8] The group got help from a map expert, who worked out coordinates and input the data into a computer model to locate the stones accurately. Using GPS and mobile phones, the group managed to make the discovery. “It was hard to access these stones as we needed to trek over steep hillsides, which can be slippery. It took us around one to one-and-a-half hours to find the boundary stone at Mount Nicholson, and two-and-a-half hours for the one at Mount Davis,” Kenneth Leung, a member of Lee’s group, said.

[9] Lee urged the antiquities office to educate the public on not vandalising the sites, noting that after the eighth stone’s discovery was revealed, someone had used red paint to mark a path to the relic, spilling a few drops of paint on it.
Source: South China Morning Post, December 17

Questions

Play a Kahoot! game about this story as a class or with your friends by clicking on the link here.

Or play on your own below to test your understanding:

1. How were the Antiquities and Monuments Office’s staff able to determine if the three boundary stones were authentic? (2 marks)

2. According to paragraph 2, how does the discovery of the stones affect future development of the areas where they are located?

3. What was the purpose of the boundary stones mentioned in paragraph 3?

4. Why is it easy to miss the boundary stones according to Lee?

5. According to paragraph 7, why did Lee’s group refer to maps that date back to the 1960s?
A. They showed the boundaries marking the City of Victoria.
B. They were the only ones that showed Mount Davis and Mount Nicholson.
C. They belonged to the Lands Department and were more accurate than other maps from the same period.
D. all of the above

6. Find a word or phrase in paragraph 8 that means “a set of numbers that is used to locate a point on a map”.

7. What prompted Lee to call for the public to be educated on the various sites that hold the boundary stones?

8. Decide if the following statements are True, False or Not Given in the text.
(i) Boundary stones were previously found in areas in present-day Wan Chai.
(ii) The stones were made of saw-cut sandstone blocks and were five metres high when set in the ground.
(iii) A couple alerted Lee about one of the boundary stones after they had come across it.
(iv) The group stumbled upon the tenth stone by chance while they were studying some maps of the area.

9. In which section of a newspaper might you find this article?
A. ancient cultures
B. historic landmarks
C. historical society
D. historic architecture

The boundary stones are inscribed with “City Boundary 1903”, and the construction style is similar to others recorded. Photo: Historical Walk Hong Kong

Answers

1. They had the words “City Boundary 1903” inscribed on them, and the construction style was similar to other boundary stones that were previously recorded.
2. A study will need to be conducted to assess whether future projects would have an impact on the sites.
3. They were used to mark the limits between districts, communities, countries and private land.
4. because the boundary stones are located in areas that have turned into forests
5. A
6. coordinates
7. Someone had used red paint to mark a path to the eighth boundary stone after its discovery was revealed, and that person ended up spilling a few drops of paint on it.
8. (i) NG; (ii) NG; (iii) T; (iv) F
9. B

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