Roadside History: Bound Rock in Hampton is one of the oldest boundary markers in U.S.
March 18. 2017 6:40PM
Location: Woodstock Street. To get to Bound Rock, take Route 1-A south toward Seabrook. Take the first left past the bridge over the Hampton Harbor Inlet, which is Eisenhower Street. Follow Eisenhower to Campton Street, turn right, then turn right onto Portsmouth Street, then left onto Woodstock Street.
What the sign says: “This rock, originally in the middle of Hampton River, indicated the start of the boundary line surveyed by Capt. Nicholas Shapley and marked by him ‘AD 1657-HB and SH’ to determine the line between Hampton and Salisbury. HB meaning Hampton Bound and SH, Shapley’s mark.
The back story: Bound Rock is one of the oldest boundary markers in the United States. The area where it sits has been disputed since the 1600s when both the New Hampshire and Massachusetts Bay colonies claimed the land and the taxes owed from it. Capt. Shapley’s surveying set the border line between Hampton and Salisbury as a ledge in the middle of the mouth of the Hampton River. The ledge became known as Bound Rock.
Another border dispute emerged later between Hampton and Seabrook, which was incorporated in 1768 as a separate town between Hampton and Salisbury. Eventually Bound Rock was found, excavated and inscribed with “H B 1850” to indicate when Hampton’s southern limit was set and also with “S H 1861.”
The feud didn’t end there. Hampton now owned the land, but it had to provide services to an area that was difficult for the town to reach. In the 1950s, Seabrook built a public water system that stopped south of the new town line, and it had no interest in Hampton’s request to extend water to the Hampton section.
The state of New Hampshire placed a concrete wall around Bound Rock in 1937 to protect the boundary marker. Hampton purchased the site from a private landowner in 1956 and covered the concrete enclosure with a steel grate in 1962.
Bound Rock was nominated as a National Historic Site in 1978, the same year the historical marker was placed.
Sources: Hampton’s Lane Memorial Library and Peter Randall’s “Hampton: A Century of Town and Beach, 1888-1988.”