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.

A Stone Wall with Fern and her Twin Daughters

A Stone Wall with Fern & her Twin Daughters

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.

John Haynes with Fossilised Coral Roots

John Haynes with Fossilised Coral Head

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.

Fossilised Coral Round Tops

Fossilised Corallites

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.

A Detail of Fossilized Coral showing the Septa, and Developing Fracture

A Detail of Fossilized Coral showing the Septa, and Developing Fracture

The Fossilized Coral Septa, Viewed Longitudinally

The Fossilized Coral Septa, Viewed Longitudinally

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.

Discovering Preserved Bedding in a Block of Limestone

Discovering Preserved Bedding in a Block of Limestone

Detail of Bedding planes in Limestone

Detail of Bedding planes in Limestone

John’s enthusiasm is easy to see and very infectious so you can see he would make a wonderful professor.

John Demonstrating Layering Effect

John Demonstrating Layering Effect

Another Chunk of Coral Discovered

Another Chunk of Coral Discovered

Leaning in Looking at Detail

Leaning in Looking at Detail

Block of Coral Weathering in Relief, Emphasizing the Individual Corallites

Block of Coral Weathering in Relief, Emphasizing the Individual Corallites

Detailed Profile of a Weathered Corallite

Detailed Profile of a Weathered Corallite

Then I found this little beauty.

A Gastropod

A Gastropod

What makes them stand out even more is if you pour a bit of water on them.

A Gastropod Wet With Water

A Gastropod Wet With Water

Have you looked at your stone walls recently?

 

5 Responses to What is in Your Stone Walls

  1. Dee Sewell says:

    Wow, I would never have guessed! That’s amazing. Not only will I now be looking closely at stone walls thanks to all the moss etc that I want to photograph, now I’ll be looking for fossils! Thanks for sharing that, lovely post 🙂

  2. That is so cool! I love stone walls even more now 🙂

  3. This is lovely, Suzanna! You are so lucky to have so much history embedded in your stones. I do too have a stone wall surrounding my property but I was only able to find 1 stone with trilobites in it.

  4. Marie says:

    What a lovely interesting post. I jumped to read it when I saw it on Irish Bloggers page as I love the stone wall at the back of our house and while fixing it back up one day I found a beautiful fossil too. It’s perfectly shiny almost marble like right in the middle of a rough stone. like a giant curled up snail. It sits on our mantlepiece now and everyone’s fascinated that it came out of our back wall:-)

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