Sunday, April 17, 2016

Rock On

For the last couple years, I've wanted to do a dry stone wall workshop at The Stone Trust, a nonprofit group dedicated to preserving the craft of laying dry stone, in Dummerston, VT. This winter I checked their schedule and was pleased to see that they would be doing a workshop at the NY-NJ Trail Conference Headquarters in Mahwah, NJ, near the NY state line.  How could I resist a workshop so close to home?

Friday's workshop, which I missed due to work, was dedicated to the planning and prep work of the build.  When I showed up at the workshop on Saturday, the wooden frames and string lines were already in place, the stones were sorted and the gravel footing was laid.  We started laying the foundation stones almost immediately.  By Saturday afternoon we were a couple courses above ground level and started placing our through-stones (the long rectangular ones placed perpendicular to the wall in the photo above).  These long stones help tie the two faces of the wall together.

The instructors were patient with us novices, and the wall rose at a pretty good pace.  We each had out section that we worked on.  The above photo was taken this morning before we started work.

 The wall lies between the busy road and the trail conference headquarters, a beautifully restored 1891 schoolhouse building.

With about 25 people working for two days, we laid over 100' feet of wall.  Every stone is painstakingly mated with its brethren, with only gravity and friction holding them in place.

We capped the wall with some large, long stones to hold it all in place.  I capped my weekend with a couple IPAs and a hot shower.

May it stand for a century.


  1. it's beautiful. all it needs is a couple of 'tufa troughs of perennials and it will be done!

  2. Thanks Webb. The wall definitely needs some landscaping to take away its raw feeling.

  3. That was a project and a half and well done. As I come from the land of dry-stone walls I can appreciate the craftsmanship. And from building my own dry stone walls I wonder how many trapped fingers. I know that happened to me on more than one occasion.