Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Capstones Defined (sort of)

Above: A “stone wall” in Washington CT, wide at the base and exhibiting field stone capstones.
Subtype: Ornate – (The) wall need not be ostentatious, though many are. Most were laid, rather than stacked, with architectural and aesthetic concerns, rather than stone disposal or territorialism, being paramount. Being expensive to build, ornate double walls are often called estate walls, especially when they are high and associated with hedges.
Above: Another “stone wall” in Litchfield CT exhibiting fieldstone capstones.

     The most common variant of the ornate double wall is the capped wall, which is perhaps the most common style around public cemeteries, and identified by quarried stone blocks, usually granite, marble or sandstone, laid on a fieldstone base. Slightly less common is the quarrystone wall, which is built entirely of quarried stone, and therefore, by definition, an ornate wall. Copestone walls are also common, especially in colonial-era English towns. They were built by placing the final tier of stones on edge across the double wall, to produce a fence-like top (related to the spikes, hedges, and broken glass) to prevent climbing or sitting on the wall. Informally, the most ornate of all is the turreted wall, in which pedestals, resembling the turrets on medieval castles, are built into the wall, clearly for show. Of course, any of these can occur with the others. A final variant of ornate wall is the guard wall, which is ornate by virtue of its height of more than five feet, and usually includes other ornamentation.” – Robert Thorson
Suggested Subtype: Indigenous Ornate
     The row of stones is artistically stacked and composed of petroforms similar to design motifs important to the pre-contact Indigenous cultures in the North East, used in other forms of artwork.

     The detail of the first capstone in the first stone wall pictured that caught my attention had a  triangular shaped quartzite stone below it, much like a turtle's head below a shell:
      I considered a moment or two the possibility that this was a deliberate testudinate placement, a cultural clue as to who built this “stone wall.” Was this a representation in stone of a turtle? One is just a possible coincidence, while more than one suggests a pattern (although now I am updating that numbers in that statement with a paraphrase of the old Archy semi-joking observation that: One (Stone Cultural Representation of a Turtle) is an accident, two (Stone Turtles ) is a coincidence and three (Stone Turtles) is a conspiracy - and add "Who is going to count all the Stone Turtles in this Stone Structure?):

Farther along, on the same row of stones:
    Would I find this pattern of testudinate cultural representations in another location, on a “stone wall” with capstones, such as the place where that second photo above was taken?

And in the row below the capstones, the pattern of including, by stacking stones in an artistic manner, effigies and geometric patterns of cultural significance repeats, as in this example in Washington CT:
And in the Litchfield row of stones:

What we, as "stone wall" researchers, see depends on what we look for:
Stolen and cropped enhanced photo from:

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