Though this may look like a cave painting of a hunter chasing a “hefalump,” it’s actually the surface of a granite boulder at Watch Hill, Rhode Island. The light-colored zones are masses of feldspar crystals stretched and folded by magma movements.

One highlight of the SWI has been the publication of three three books by its coordinator, each serving a different sector of the market, and all available either in bookstores or through online booksellers.


SWI2-Scan StoneByStone

Stone by Stone (Walker, 2002) is the most well known and authoritative. It narrates the story of New England’s historic stone walls from the oldest one known (1607) to the current situation of managing this cultural resource. The Washington Post called Stone by Stone a “manifesto” for the stone wall conservation movement. It remains in print through Bloomsbury, Inc., which purchased Walker.


SWI2-Scan ExplStoneWallsCover

Exploring Stone Walls (Walker, 2005) is the first field guide to New England stone walls. It’s the kind of book you use to help interpret your own stone walls, or keep in the glovebox of your car when traveling.  Bird-watching is seasonal. Wall-watching can be done all year round. Though currently out of print, copies are available in libraries and through online book re-sellers.  Here’s the amazon link.


Stone Wall Secrets (Tilbury House, 1998) was co-authored with Kristine Thorson. It’s an award-winning illustrated children’s book designed to help teach school-age kids about Earth history using the human story of stone walls.



Happily, there are many other good books out there on the subject.  Below, I  list my favorite three.  For others, link to the growing Stone Wall Bibliography.

  • Allport, Susan, 1990, Sermons in Stone; The Stone Walls of New England and New York.  New York: W.W.Norton.  [A topical overview by a skilled writer.]
  • Gardner, Kevin, 2001, The Granite Kiss: Traditions and Techniques of Building New England Stone Walls. Woodstock, VT: Countryman Press.  [Written by a stonemason who is carrying on a family tradition.]
  • Hubbell, William, 2006, Good Fences: A Pictorial History of New England Stone Walls.  Portland, ME: DownEast Books. [Award winning photography with a reflective text.]
Layered sedimentary rock is often called the “book of time.” Here is a “stretch-pebble conglomerate,” within the Narragansett Formation, Jamestown, RI.