What is it about stones?
How many people reading this could deny ever picking up a stone,
examining its colour and shape, feeling its texture and appreciating
its solid, enduring firmness in the hand? How many have a collection
of favourite stones that evoke memories of times and places enjoyed
in the past?
Indeed stones have provoked a unique fascination for humans for
thousands of years. They have provided a readily available source
of weapons, tools and building materials. As humans advanced beyond
the need for mere survival, stones were used with increasing creativity
to build protective barriers, shelters and structures with spiritual
and artistic significance. Archaeological and anthropological
investigations demonstrate that this link between humans and stones
appears to have no geographical or cultural boundaries and the
fascination with stones continues as a medium for practical constructions
and artistic expression.
The Dry Stone Story
The craft of dry stone walling, (which means building in stone
without mortar or cement) must be very old indeed. How old? No
one really seems to know for certain. Yet here we have a native
art that has survived centuries in other lands, and even today,
in this age of technology, continues to evoke a sense of passion
and connection for Australians from all walks of life.
Dry stone walling in Australia emerged in the mid 1800's in areas
where a proliferation of stone in the geological landscape necessitated
a clearing of the land. Although built as the most economic form
of fencing, specific historical associations can also be made
with particular landowners as so often the style of wall also
reflects the status of its builder. Constructed by both Anglo
Celtic and European Migrants the walls are historically and culturally
significant, standing as testimony to a time when artisan skills
portrayed the patterns of our early settlement. Albeit agrarian
and connected with grazing as the chief rural industry, their
aesthetic qualities and strong sculptural forms create visual
definitions and picturesque qualities that allude to romantic
traces of ruins to the landscape.