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Stone and Masonry

Stone Types, Chemical Composition, Construction Rocks, Stone Construction, Bricks

It is possible that ever since people first came to be, stone was used in constructing something: a fence, an oven in a hole or trench, or a shelf in a cave. And it is possible that sometime during this era, someone coined the statement: "Leave no stone unturned." The many cairns and stone hedges erected for religious or astronomical uses were the initial attempts at masonry. However, true masonry did not begin until the Egyptians built the pyramids. Previous to this, most stone structures were constructed by placing one stone upon, or next to, another, regardless of size or shape.

In constructing the pyramids, the stone was first hewn or carved into a certain shape and then placed into a preplanned position. Other great stone undertakings were walls, the wall of China being the largest. The Roman wall in England was 10 ft (3 m) thick at the base and up to 15 ft (4.6 m) in height in some places. Although it was filled with mud and pebbles, both faces were constructed with squared stones. It ran for over 70 mi (113 km). Surviving portions are about 6 ft (1.8 m) high.

It was during the Norman period that most old stone structures were erected in England. And many of the craftsmen were of Norman descent. Therefore many of the architectural terms used in the English language are of French origin. Some of these are vault, buttress, niche, oriel, trefoil, fillet, and chamfer. French influence is also evident in the standardization of various building units, such as the course heights and in various moldings and carvings. Many of these were designed to fit the individual blocks of stone rather than create a regular repetitive pattern. The majority of the original stone buildings were cathedrals, churches, and castles. But as time went on, especially where stone was quite abundant, manor houses, farmhouses, and even barns began to be built of stone.

In America, especially in northern America, when settlers first came, many were tillers of the soil, or became such. The last glacier brought many stones from Canada and northern America and deposited them on the land. The settlers then used them for fences and for barns and house foundations. Today stones are used to face many buildings.

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