The Old Stone Wall

It doesn’t look like much when you first see it. Just a long dirt mound, an occasional rock sticking out here and there, all covered with brittle leaves. But if you look closer you’ll find what remains of an old stone wall:

remainings of an old stone wall covered with dead leaves

Remember me telling you about the old chimney that stands in our woods, the only thing left of an 1800s home sight? Well, just in front of where the home used to stand, in what I assume to have been the front yard, is this fallen down wall. It is beautiful, and intriguing.

When I first discovered this mound, it was hard to tell what it was. I wondered if it might be an old grave. I imagined myself uncovering somebody’s bones. I fantasized about what could be buried under there. Perhaps a bag of gold coins!!

Hey, I can dream, can’t I?

One day, I decided that I was going to dig up that stone wall and use the large rocks underneath to line the herb bed I’m planning in my front yard. I grabbed my shovel and wheelbarrow, and went to work.

pig next to old stone rocks
pig next to old stone rocks

I even convinced the pig to help me out! She’s a great rock mover! I told her that if she proved herself to be useful, we might just keep her around longer, but she wasn’t too interested in working for very long. Oh well.

old fence posts

What I thought were some old fallen trees in my way turned out to be hand carved fencing. Man, I wish I knew what this wall looked like in it’s time, or what purpose it served! Surely it wasn’t simply aesthetic. Maybe they tied a horse to it? It didn’t surround anything, it just made a semi-circle in the yard. What was it for?

broken glass among fallen tree leaves

Though I haven’t come across a hidden bag of gold (yet!), I have uncovered a few cool little treasures. Lots of broken glass, an old canning jar lid, and even broken pottery!

found broken pottery 1
found broken pottery 2

Today I found these pieces. Some really pretty pottery, and an old handmade nail. Needless to say, my rock digging has turned into more of a treasure hunt! Why were these things in the wall? Was it a common practice back then to toss broken items into these stone structures?

large rock in wheelbarrow

Though it has taken me a while, I’ve managed to unearth a bunch of good sized rocks! Let me tell you, this is hard work! The wheelbarrow I have is old, with an iron wheel… not something you want to be pushing through soft ground with a heavy load!

I ended up carrying each rock by hand. One by one, I hauled them back through the woods, over fallen trees, under branches, out of the forest and across the land to the front yard where I’ve been placing them in a nice line bordering my white picket fence. I’ve also surrounded my fruit trees with a nice rock border.

It doesn’t look like much now, so I won’t show you my flower bed yet. But when it’s done I’ll let you see how great it looks! I still have a bit more to go. It takes a while to dig through the dirt and roots and smaller stones to find the larger ones, but I’m making a lot of progress!

And as I dig I let my mind wander. I imagine the strong hands of a man over 200 years ago stacking those very stones into a nice wall. I picture his straw hat and pants held up by suspenders.

I think of all of the work it took him to find those very rocks, and I am thankful to have them all neatly laid before me. I wonder if he would appreciate me using those rocks for my own wall.

10 thoughts on “The Old Stone Wall”

  1. I’m thinking that the original homesteaders garden was close by. Around these parts there are a lot of old stone walls. Back when they tilled the ground, they would remove the rocks that were dug up and I imagine any other debris they found and piled the rocks along the edges of the fields, just to get them out of the way. Not necessarilly to make walls. Just guessing.

  2. I am sure that back in the days your homestead was originally settled there were no garbage trucks to pick up your trash. So they had to find places to put it out of sight and mind. The outhouse comment was right on, as well as incorporating it into structures, like your wall. They didn’t generate as much “trash” as the current generation of consumers do either. Most things were practical things that had broken, pottery and glass jars. But the first throw-away items were those glass medicine bottles. It seemed like most people would buy their “remedies” instead of making their own. Or else why didn’t they reuse the bottles. Most of those little bottles are found whole, not broken. Have fun finding more treasures. It is wonderful to ponder what the lives of the people before you were like.

  3. Great post. Maybe you could use some of those wonderful finds in a mosaic piece for your garden. There’s a great project for Earth Day!
    That would be very exciting to see what’s under each stone. Please be sure to show us your project when you are through. -Cheryl

  4. I can’t wait to see what your hard work is producing..I bet it must be very hard to carry all of them..the end result you will love..Have a wonderful day..Hope you find that bag of never know…Lisa

  5. Very interesting! I remember going through the old foundations at my parents, finding treasures and playing house in them, lol.

  6. I have to wonder if it might have been an old outhouse or some similar dumping grounds. You would typically find old broken pottery and things that dont decompose fast in places like that. In the old days they would just dump it in the outhouse because it was the most convenient place to throw it. It is very neat to see your finds.

  7. From what I have learned from local historians in my trip to Strawberry Banke here in NH, it was extremely common to just throw trash/broken things out in the yard. They usually had a particular spot for it.

    What fun for you digging through this!! We have a stone wall lining one whole side of my parent’s 17 acres, and I have always loved walking along it and seeing what I can find.

    Great post!

  8. I love the way you write. You have a very soothing and wistful style that draws your reader into the story. Might I suggest that you take your Chimney and your wall as a starting point. Continue to ask your questions and put your answers into a story that could have been. Develop a story line, introduce us to the people that could have lived there and create. Add your own homesteading experiences, draw inspiration from your friends. Tell us what life was like on your land in the 1800’s.

  9. So cool! We’ve found lots of similar treasures on our homestead. Intriguing, isn’t it!? I would love to go back in time for a day to see how they lived when they built our old house! Can’t wait to see your wall!


Leave a Comment