The History, Science and Poetry of New England's Stone Walls

Stone wall in Massachusetts

From EARTH Magazine  --  When author John-Manuel Andriote returned to his hometown in New England after years away, he noticed something that had been invisible to him while growing up there - the old stone walls tumbling off into the forests. The realization that the crumbling and overgrown walls meant those forests had once been cleared farm lands set Andriote on a years-long journey of discovery that highlights the intersections of geologic and human history.

The story of New England's stone walls begins with the glaciers of the last ice age, meanders through the Colonial and early New England farming eras, ebbs during industrialization in America as the walls were abandoned and fell into disrepair, renews with their romanticization in the poetry of Robert Frost and the writings of Henry David Thoreau, and continues today with their rediscovery and refurbishment.

Follow along with the Andriote and stone wall expert and University of Connecticut geologist Robert M. Thorson as they explore the geology and history of these iconic New England structures in the June issue of EARTH Magazine.

For more stories about the science of our planet, check out EARTH Magazine online or subscribe at (link is external). The June issue, now available on the digital newsstand, features stories on deep-sea mining, social science improving tornado warnings, and solar wind turning rock into water, plus much,
much more.

Image above: By Rob Larsen from Boston, USA (stone wall) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons