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Stone Walls Overview

Written by GJ Stott

Stone wall was originally mortar-less and was generally used to divide lands and keep livestock separate. Terminology for the stone wall varies regionally. For example, dry-stone, so called because of the lack of mortar, wall structures are also commonly known as dykes in Great Britain and surrounding areas. Today, stone wall is still popular but is almost always built with some type of cement mortar.

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Regional Uses and Terms for Stone Walls

Stone Walls

In Europe, dry-stone wall is characteristic of Scotland, Ireland, England and Wales. Yet European stone wall is not exclusive to Great Britain, as it is also found in a few regions of Italy and several other countries. Stone wall was common during the Middle Ages because these areas generally had a plentiful supply rocks available for building. Weather conditions in these areas are too harsh to allow any types of hedge to grow tall enough to create a significant barrier or division. Several thousands of miles of this European stone wall can still be seen today.

In the United States it is common to see stone wall in New England, and stone walls are a notable feature of parts of central Kentucky, where they are more frequently referred to as a “rock fence“.

Mortar-less stone wall construction was also anciently used by native inhabitants in both Africa and South America as here at 1200 AD. In these two areas, stone wall was implemented in the construction of buildings and retaining walls that made otherwise steep and hard to use hills into flat, feasible land (Wikipedia).

A Brief History of Stone Walls

Stone wall building technique has seen some major changes since its origin. The difference between early and present-day stone wall construction is the use of mortar, most often cement. This use of mortar in the wall construction has had a major impact on the strength and stability of stone walls, making it possible to build walls taller and larger than ever before.

In reaction to the growing demand for stone walls, companies have started to offer stone from concrete known as “cast stone.” One of the first methods of creating cast stone was to use a pan, or tray, into which concrete was poured. These pans would have to lay flat on the ground until the cement was fully dried. During this time period, the textured design was being molded into one side of the wall.

Another distinctive method of creating stone walls is the use of cement forms and form liners, which are used to cast concrete walls. Initially, these forms were also poured while placed horizontally on the ground, which caused the walls to only have one side of textured design. This method has lower costs than traditional stone walls but customers began to press for two-sided textured stone walls. Technological advancements have improved the forms so that walls are cast vertically, producing a precast wall with the desired design on both sides.

The Future of Stone Walls

Stone Walls

StoneTree® Precast Stone Walls are the most advanced precast concrete wall offered today. StoneTree® wall is unique because it is the only wall that has both the column and the wall panel cast as one unit; thus, this wall eliminates the need to combine column and wall later. The StoneTree® Precast Stone Walls have an elegantly natural look while also offering the strength and reliability of precast concrete. StoneTree® wall is more durable than a traditional stone wall and is a fraction of the cost.

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