Easter Island gates look like ours

Matthew Chatfield
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Blogger Richard Koelher from The Honest Hypocrite has been on honeymoon to Easter Island! Remarkable enough as that is in itself, he has been kind enough to provide some observations on some of the things he found there on his blog. Included is an intriguing photograph of a gate which he kindly drew to the Ranger’s attention:

A gate on Easter Island (c) Richard Koehler

The hinges are on the right (twists of flexible wood), and the fastening on the left appears to be a bit of twine. Richard says:

We found much ingenuity in the use of materials on Easter Island. Everything must be shipped in from the mainland (2000 miles away) with the consequent markup in cost, so they try to get all of the use they can.

Perhaps it is an example of convergent evolution, or maybe some old-time European sailor taught them the trick, or vice versa. But this gate looks remarkably like the traditional rural field-gates of lowland England, and perhaps elsewhere. Now normally seen in England only on more expensive gates, or when specially made for some heritage project, the characteristic raised hinge-post is something once found on many gate styles. It is one time when the normal dictum about the direction of the diagonal is reversed, and in fact the diagonal on such a gate has to run from hinge down to latch, because the gate is hanging from it. This particular example doesn’t look as if it would hold much back – a particularly sluggish horse maybe, or some very dim cattle. But sheep or calves would be straight out, and many horses would kick it to bits soon enough. So perhaps it was just to keep people out rather than stock in. Here is a modern example of the English equivalent for comparison:

A field-gate

Notice that the basic structure is identical, although the Ranger would venture to suggest that while this one might be a little better at stock retention, it probably wouldn’t get very far in a canoe.

Matthew Chatfield

Uncooperative crusty. Unofficial Isle of Wight cultural ambassador. Conservation, countryside and the environment, with extra stuff about spiders.

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