this quote below has a strange credence....
"Walls have influenced the terrain directly. Hilltop walls forced the rain toward different streams. Lowland walls impounded many small wetlands, caused the build up of soil on slopes, and acted as underground drains on floodplains. Stone walls are so tightly enmeshed with streams,slopes, and soils that the distinction between wall and non wall is often unclear"
-Robert M. Thorton Author of 'Stone by Stone'(page 7) and 'Exploring Stone Walls'
And here's the evidence that no stone walls existed before the European presence.....
" The lack of written material is interesting in itself, for it shows better than anything in writing ever could how ordinary these enduring objects were once thought to be"
- Susan Allport ,Author of Sermon in the Stone (page 107)
There you have it..... she couldn't find much, therefore the Europeans built the whole 252,539 miles of stone walls in New England and New York that existed as per the 1871 Department of Agriculture report on Stone Fences.
Back to Robert M. Thorson...
In his "Field Guide to New England Stone Walls" The entry which has the title "The Oldest Wall"
reads: The oldest known documentary mention of a stone wall in New England is this one. In 1607 the North Virginia Company established a colony with the intent of permanent settlement. Though it disappeared within the year, a letter cited by the historian Howard Russell strongly suggests that the colonists built a stone wall, which was later destroyed or buried" page 145....(the italics are mine)
There you have it. More solid evidence that all stone walls were built in post colonial times.
"Destroyed or buried?" nice wall building guys
More Choice quotes from Robert M Thorson's Stone By Stone Book(pg 77):
Jared Eliot's Essays on Field Husbandry in New England(1748 to 1760), the first treatise on agricultural practices in the British colonies- one that included detailed descriptions of how to enclose land, whether by fencing, ditching, plashing(integrating a mix of wood and hedge), or hedging-contains NO mention of stone walls. Similarly, the anonymous American Husbandry (1775) comments extensively on both the purpose and the condition of colonial enclosures, but does not mention fences or walls made of stone.
Ironically, one of the first mentions of stone walls in the colonies is from an archaeological context. According to the historian Howard Russell, the failed Sagadahoc Hearbes and some old Walls' to be observed by a visitor a decade and a half later."1 Apparently, they were first noticed not for their value as a building accessory, but as physical evidence of earlier human life, in this case the earliest English colonization in the Northeast. Italics-mine (M.B.) Of course Robert Thorson has nothing backing this claim up.
1. H. Russell's ,Book: A Long Deep Furrow:Three Centuries of Farming In New England, 1976