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Sett (paving)

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Title: Sett (paving)  
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Subject: Road surface, Mercat Cross, Edinburgh, Drummond Street, Edinburgh, Yorkstone, College Green, Bristol
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Sett (paving)

A road paved with setts, often confused with cobbles
Laying setts in Edinburgh, Scotland in 2013

A sett, usually referred to in the plural and known in some places as a Belgian block,[1] is a broadly rectangular quarried stone used for paving roads.[2] Formerly in widespread use, particularly on steeper streets because setts provided horses' hooves with better grip than a smooth surface, they are now encountered rather as decorative stone paving in landscape architecture.[3][4] Setts are often inaccurately[5] referred to as "cobbles": a sett is distinct from a cobblestone in that it is quarried or worked to a regular shape, whereas the latter is generally a small, naturally-rounded rock.[6]

Setts are usually made of granite.

Notable places

Notable places still paved with setts include Vicars' Close, Wells,[7] many streets in Aberdeen (Scotland), much of Edinburgh's Old Town and New Town, Red Square in Moscow and the Granada TV set of Coronation Street.

In New York City West Village (including the Meatpacking District) and SoHo neighborhoods retain such streets.

Germantown Avenue in Philadelphia, in particular its upper reaches through Germantown, Mount Airy and Chestnut Hill, is notable for being paved with Belgian blocks; repaving projects on this thoroughfare have retained or reintroduced setts to give additional historic character to these neighborhoods. Part of this character includes the tracks of the 23 trolley, though the modern tracks are encased in concrete slabs rather than setts, and the trolley line itself is currently operated by buses.

In Richmond, Virginia Belgian block streets are particularly common, most notably in Shockoe Slip. Street cars traveled through the street on tracks that are still visible though the system has been replaced by buses.

The Fells Point neighborhood of Baltimore also has Belgian block streets.

In many cities besides Richmond and Philadelphia setts have often been used for pavement around street-running trolley or tram lines in the same manner as brickwork.


Streets paved with setts are highlights in several cycling competitions such as the final Champs-Élysées stage of the Tour de France and the Paris–Roubaix road race. Riding upon sett is technically more challenging than riding on asphalt.


See also


  1. ^ Potter, Chris (October 14, 2004). "Were Pittsburgh's original finished roads and streets paved with cobblestone, Belgian block or some other type of brick?".  
  2. ^ Oliver, David. "A Walking Tour of The Royal Burgh of Wick". Retrieved 2009-03-04. At the first building after the end of the bridge, turn left into East High street which has not been widened and still has old stone setts. 
  3. ^ "Secret garden is a joy to behold". This Is South Wales. 2009-02-25. Retrieved 2009-03-04. This is a garden of variation rather than variety. Hedges in subtly different colours and heights, paths sticking to the same small palette of materials, old timber from Swansea docks, granite setts, stone and brick but varying in pattern to suit the moment and the rhythm of the space, a small number of boldly used containers, lipped with jagged zinc, contain strong effects, from cloud-pruned box to a flat plane of granite setts. 
  4. ^  
  5. ^ "Cobble".  
  6. ^ "Setts & Cubes: Introduction". A J McCormack & Son. Retrieved 2012-04-04. 
  7. ^ "Boundary walls to Nos.1-13 Vicars Close, Wells". Images of England. English Heritage. Retrieved 2009-01-13. 

External links

  • Media related to at Wikimedia Commons

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