The mystery of a 250-year-old milestone in Surbiton Road has been solved by an associate professor from Kingston University.

Jean-Christophe Nebel saw the milestone while walking, and saw that most of the wording had been worn away by the weather and cement poured on it during the Second World War.

He said: “I’ve lived in Kingston for more than ten years, but I first saw the stone last September. I tried to read the inscription, but it was unreadable, which triggered my curiosity.”

Dr Nebel enlisted the help of his wife Odalys as well as his research colleague Yannis Kazantzidis and his wife Olga.

While Mr Kazantzidis was taking flash photographs of the stone in the dark, hoping the relief of the inscription would cast more legible shadows, he met Alan Birkinshaw, a film director who lives next to it.

Surrey Comet:

The milestone is unreadable now.

Mr Birkinshaw, who has lived there for 16 years, said: “I could see someone looking at it, and if people sit and study it I usually go outside to talk to them.

“He said they were determined to find out the words, and that he thought they might have some information. About a week later they called me and asked me to come to the university.”

Through the internet and looking in different libraries, the group eventually found obscure nineteenth century newspaper articles to find the stone reads: “IIII Miles, 3 quarters, 1 furlong, and 28 rod from Ewell Market Place.”

Mr Birkinshaw said: “I’ve looked in the library myself, I’ve not done nothing towards working it out, but it took the group to ask the right questions. They’re proper researchers. The information was there, but it took them to find it.

“What’s really interesting is milestones usually mark distance ‘to’ things, not ‘from’. It was probably paid for by Ewell Market to encourage people to go there.”

Surrey Comet:

He had a plaque of the inscription made.

Mr Birkinshaw is an international film and television director, who has recently made films about Kingston on his phone, so offered to make one about the “really quite fun” discovery.

Dr Nebel said: “We became bad actors for the film, but it’s a nice piece of work, and we are quite pleased that our little investigation has been recorded in this way.”

You can watch the video here.