Dry stack stone construction techniques are believed to have been utilized in various parts of the world since at least 4,000 B.C. More "recently," many of the dry stone walls that exist today in Scotland can be dated to the 14th century or earlier when they were built to divide fields and retain livestock.
Above: Dry Stone Recess for Storing Firewood
by Terrigenous Landscape Architecture
The skill and craftsmanship employed in this construction method has been perfected over the centuries,
ing in many outstanding examples of the stone worker's art. By the 15th century A.D., the Inca of Peru made use of steep slopes that were other-
wise unusable by erecting dry stone walls to create terraces, as well as to build freestanding walls. Their ashlar type construction utilized the classic Inca architectural style of polished dry stone walls of regular shape. The In-
cas were masters of this technique, in which blocks of stone are cut to fit together tightly without mortar. Many junctions are so perfect that not even a knife fits between the stones!
In the United States, dry stone walls are common in areas with rocky soils, such as New England, New
York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. On the west coast, they are common in the Napa Valley of north central
California. They are also a notable characteristic of the bluegrass region of central Kentucky, where they are
usually referred to as rock fences. This tech-
nique of construction was brought to America primarily by Scots-Irish im-
migrants, and has been mastered by present-day stone artisans such as Lew French -- who created the superb dry stacked stone wall pictured be-
low, left. The picturesque outdoor bread oven below, right, was crafted by Champlain Valley Landscaping.
The romantic "ruins" shown below -- complete with stone arch -- were created by Vogelman West Associates.
build a stone fireplace employing the dry stack method, the stones are stacked horizontally and
rely on the weight of the stones and friction be-
tween each stone for strength and architectural integrity. Technically "mortarless," the stones used to build a stacked stone fireplace -- though assembled tightly together -- sometimes allow for a very narrow mortared bed joint that is raked back deeply into the stone work so the mortar is undetectable. As shown in the following photos, this method of construc-
tion can be used to create a wide and varied range of differing looks. The striking -- albeit cozy -- hearth pictured below, left, was designed for fashion mogul Ralph Lauren by Ewing Architects for Mr. Lauren's mountain ranch in Colorado.
The fireplace designs that follow are crafted from fieldstone. The fireplaces at top right and bottom are in the Lake Placid Lodge. Located in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York, the designs are typical of those in the Adirondack Style. Note the inglenook in the massive stone hearth pictured at bottom.
The two fireplaces that follow are crafted from river stones . . . commonly called river rock. The design pictured below, right, hints at the wide range of colors available.
Following is an unusual -- albeit striking -- design from Poetry In Stone. The starkly contrasting stone
sizes, colors and textures make for a remark-
able composition that is appropriate for both traditional and contemporary settings!
The outdoor stone fireplace design pictured at right is crafted from
huge boulders that almost appear
to be floating in air above the fire-
box opening. The attractive stone outdoor fireplace that follows was created by members of the Dry
Stone Wall Association of Canada.
Dry stack stone arch bridge pictured above created by members of the
Dry Stone Wall Association of Canada
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