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Art in Rock and Stone Walls

"Something there is that doesn't love a wall . . . . . . ." wrote Robert Frost

Frost focused on how walls divide and separate rather than reflecting on the beauty evinced in the form and style of a rock or stone wall, how each mirrors the craftsmanship of the mason, the local geology, and the customs and traditions of the region.

This website presents a pot pourri of images of rock and stone walls that I have taken around the world over the years, without regard to type of wall, location, or chronology. My focus is on walls as art forms rather than the kind of rock they are made of. Many walls do reflect the kind of rock provided by the local geology, and they may represent a regional style, such as a "Tuscan style". The kind of rock does play a role in the patterns of colors, shapes, and aspects of each wall. Thus each wall is a unique work of art, created by the hand, skill, and imagination of the individual mason.

Rocks may be quarried or gathered loosely from the ground surface as fieldstone. Quarried rocks are generally split, sawed, or planed to yield a dressed surface. Fieldstone blocks typically present weathered or minimally dressed surfaces.

Certain styles characterize rock and stone walls, whereas some walls are too unique to fit any classification. Simplistically, walls may be subdivided into three distinct styles, as follows:

ASHLAR: A style of wall having a flat faced surface, and with generally rectanglar or squared blocks that are accurately sized and surface tooled. Typically laid in courses and cemented with mortar.

  • Coursed ashlar: dressed squared blocks having a common thickness and similar shape, set to form continuous horizontal layers; planar fabric.
  • Stacked ashlar: dressed squared blocks having a common thickness and shape, set to form continuous vertical columns; vertical fabric.
  • Random ashlar: dressed squared blocks set with stones of variable length and height so that neither vertical nor horizontal joints are continuous; random fabric.

RUBBLE - randomly shaped blocks, usually fieldstone without mortar; random fabric. In some cases, blocks are dressed and fit in interlocking or mosaic pattern.

RUSTICATED - having a rough surface or irregular, deeply sunk, deliberately conspicuous joints, with a strong to poor planar fabric or random fabric, generally lacking mortar.

Go to Images | China Wall | Great Wall of China | Berlin Wall | Panamint City | Scotland, Guernsey, Orkney, Ireland Walls

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