The word perch is from the French perche, derived from the Latin pertica, meaning a pole or staff. Originating in Roman antiquity, it spread with the Roman Empire and was likely re-introduced to England with the Norman Conquest of 1066. In the Roman Empire, France and England, it also could mean area (square perches), and among operative masons of the Middle Ages, volume.
The perch as a lineal measure in Rome, was 10 feet (3.05 m), and in France varied from 10 feet (perche romanie) to 22 feet (perche d'arpent - apparently 1/10th of "the range of an arrow". - about 220 feet). To confuse matters further, by ancient Roman definition, an arpent equalled 120 Roman feet.
In England, the perch was officially discouraged in favour of the rod as early as the 15th century, however local customs maintained its use. In the 13th Century Perches were variously recorded in lengths of 18 feet (5.49 m), 20 feet (6.1 m), 22 feet (6.71 m) and 24 feet (7.32 m); and even as late as 1820, a House of Commons report notes lengths of 16 feet (5.03 m), 18 feet (5.49 m), 21 feet (6.4 m), 24 feet (7.32 m), and even 25 feet (7.62 m). 1⁄2 In Ireland, a perch was standardized at 21 feet (6.4 m), making an Irish chain, furlong and mile proportionately longer by 27.27% than the "standard" English measure.
As a unit of area, a square perch (the perch being standardized to equal 16½ feet, or 5½ yards) is equal to a square rod, 30 square yards (25.29 1⁄4square metres) or 0.00625 acres, or 1/160 acre. There are 40 square perches to a rood (A rectangular area with edges of one furlong (10 chains i.e. 40 rods) and one rod respectively), and 160 square perches to an acre (an area one furlong by one chain (i.e. 4 rods)). This unit was usually referred to as a perch or pole even though square perch and square pole were the more precise terms. Confusingly, rod was used as a unit of area but it meant a rood.
A traditional unit of volume for stone and other masonry. A perch of masonry is the volume of a stone wall one perch (16 feet or 5.03 metres) long, 18 inches (45.7 cm) high, and 12 inches (30.5 cm) thick. This is equivalent to exactly 1⁄224 cubic feet (0.916667 cubic yards; 0.700842 cubic metres). 3⁄4