Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Dry Stack Stone Walls

While growing up in New Jersey I spent two years of my early life working on a farm.  One of the chores before planting was cultivating the fields which unearthed a lot of rocks which needed to be dealt with before we could plant.  My job in this endeavor was to ride the stone boat that was being dragged by the tractor.  As we came upon a rock I would hop off and pick up the stone or attempt to roll the stone onto the boat.  After the boat was full we'd go to the edge of the field and place the stones on the ever expanding stone wall that had been continually added to every spring for decades.

This said, I had an immediate appreciation for the stone walls in England and Wales.  The stones there were flatter and they acted as fences to keep animals, mostly sheep, in or out of the fields.  Some of the fences had been there for a thousand years or so.  Houses and barns were also built stone.  Very few structures were built of wood.  Even new construction is mostly comprised of stone.  Roofs were tiled or slate.  These homes were made to last for centuries and the will last.

I quickly realized that much of Europe is still living in the stone age, which is a good thing.  We are always looking to build with natural materials.  Stone homes keep the homes cool on warm days and keep the homes warm on cold days. Bricks and blocks are used as well. Stones are weather resistant and fire proof.  The tile or slate roofs last for generations.  Added to that there is a personality and a sense of permanence with stone structures.

Though stones in the ground are somewhat of an inconvenience to those who want to farm and garden.  Really large stones are a major undertaking.  I have been fortunate with all the digging I have done over the last 30 years in Oregon I have only come upon one stone and it was a rather small one, the size of a fist.  However I now have stone envy.  I'd love to build some dry stack stone walls at my place.  The possibilities are endless.

Here are two images of a 2,278 foot stone wall built by Andrew Goldsworthy in 1997-1998 at the Storm King Art Center that we visited three years ago in New Windsor, New York.



Blogger Auntie said...

I love those old stone fences. The countryside in UK wouldn't be the same without them, or sheep!

9:10 AM  
Blogger ccbees@gmail.com said...

I guess we could make them here out of pit-run...

11:44 AM  

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