Before going any further on the story of the bridge we built in Port Hope in 2004 let's talk about splitting, shaping and dressing stone material. We needed to know how to do these things to be able to make some of the stones we used in the bridge.
This seemingly demanding task of trying to change the shape of rocks and stones has been going on for a long of time. Not that it always takes a long time, though it can, but it's certainly been going on since the beginning of time.
Workers in stone in early civilizations in almost every part of the globe discovered all sorts of clever ways (some of their techniques still remain a mystery ) of prying/removing chunks of rock out of the ground or cutting slabs away from outcroppings of bedrock, and then taking these big rocks and making them smaller, shaping them perfectly and even decorating their surfaces with textures and intricate designs. Various theories on how the Incas and other ancient people did this with such accuracy and on such a spectacular scale makes for great reading.
The methods employed by humble dry stone wallers however are not wrapped in any great mystery, nor are their ways a closely guarded secret that only a few craftsmen ever properly grasp to become truly proficient. Stacking stones is not rocket science. Nor is the shaping, splitting or even the dressing of stones. Only a few tools are needed along with a certain understanding of some basic methods. Whether one is building a wall, a cairn, a seat, or a small bridge, the things you have to know about the subject are pretty simple.
See tomorrow's post.