Skovsgaard Split Boulder Wall

The best parts of travel are often the unplanned stops along the way. While seeking out the location of an “art tower,” one of a dozen, abandoned, electrical transformer buildings being used as part of a unique arts project in Denmark (to be featured in a future blog post) I came across an example of a split boulder, dry stone wall.

I don’t know why it would have been built on just one side of the road, or why it’s a single face against an earthen mound. Readers, any ideas?

There are many examples of field walls in the Funen (Fyn) countryside but this was the first one I saw with a dressed face. The granite boulders used in the construction were split in order to create flat surfaces to conform to the plane of the vertical wall face. The method used was one that briefly found favor on this side of the Atlantic in the early 1800’s. The “flat wedge” hole was cut with a cape chisel. The trapezoidal shape of the hole was the result of the chisel’s “V” shaped profile. The sharp point of the V being the cutting edge. The width of the tool made logical sense. If the tool was thin like a wood chisel, the force of a five pound hammer would quickly bend it. The hand chiseled holes were 2” (long-top) x 1” (long-bottom) x 1 3/4'” (height) x 3/8” (width). Metal wedges were slid into the holes and tapped tighter and tighter until the stone fractured along the line of the holes. This method functioned the same way that round holes with “plug and feather” wedges would. The shape of the holes are the only difference.

The danger in setting a split boulder on its thin, curved edge is evident in this photo. The stone “popped” out of the wall onto it’s face either from the workings of frost, embankment erosion, or the weight of a wall-top walker.