I had a wonderful guest recently who walked around our land introducing me to what was in our stone walls. I, like many farmers, see stone walls as a means of keeping stock in this field & keeping them out of another. Stone walls are also useful for piling up unwanted stones from tillage fields. Picking stones is one of the less pleasant back breaking traditions of Ireland which is not looked upon with fondness from any who have emigrated from the land.
So let me introduce you to John Haynes an assistant professor of Geology at the James Madison University in the State of Virginia USA. He comes over to Ireland every year to teach Geology students from all over the USA at a Geology summer field camp in the West of Ireland. Ireland is known internationally to Geologists as a gold mine of rock information and earth history. Each summer all of the petroleum companies send their Geologists to Ireland to study all our rock formations in the Loop Head area of Co. Clare, before they drill for oil all over the world, notably off the Gulf of Mexico.
Several years ago I was clearing a bit of scrubby hawthorn to put in a new fence as the old fencing was not sheep proof. As I was clearing I found this huge stone with a wonderful pattern in it. I knew it was a fossil of some sort so didn’t break it up for a stone wall. John happened to be calling by later that summer so I brought him out to view my stone & he was thrilled to see it’s quality and size & thought it might be of the genus Siphonodendron.
We rescued the fossilized stone from the field & brought it up near the house. So when John came this visit we could all have a closer look at the detail which has been cleaned by many rains since he last saw it. Sadly it has also developed a fracture from rain filled pores freezing in the frosts, which means it will soon break apart.
After a close look at our beautiful head of fossilized coral we went for a walk around some of our walls and this is what we found.
John’s enthusiasm is easy to see and very infectious so you can see he would make a wonderful professor.
Then I found this little beauty.
What makes them stand out even more is if you pour a bit of water on them.
Have you looked at your stone walls recently?