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From Jacksonville Beach, FL

Friday, June 1, 2012

Stack rocks; create a sculpture, aka cairn

                                               My name for this fellow is "Rock Man."  

        Walking near the beach one morning, I saw a house with a corner of the front yard landscaped with many stacks of rocks.   Some looked like small people, others abstract sculptures.  Through an internet search, I discovered such balanced rock stacks are called "cairns," (pronounced karen) and creating them goes back to ancient history. 
        What do such stacked rocks mean?  Possibly the ones I saw in a front yard are mostly for decoration and interest.  In distant history, they may have been part of worship rituals or a wish for good fortune.  On hiking trails and in the mountains, they have been used to mark direction.  They've also been stacked on graves.  Stacking stones is a marker of many cultures and religions.  They can be found all over the world on almost every continent.
        You can find an abundance of cairns in Scotland.  Our word "cairn" derives from  Scottish Gaelic.  "Rock Man" in the photo above is a common type of cairn.  In German a cairn is called a "steinmann" (stone man).  In the Italian alps they're called "ometto" or small man.  
       Some people create the cairn and then add silicone glue to keep the rocks from falling.  The purist tries to stack them without adhesive.  You can even buy them.  If you do an internet search for "cairn,"  you will find several sites that sell them or the stones for making one.  They're even available on ebay.  One good site for photos and detailed info about cairns is Wikipedia, and there are many others.
       More photos from the yard near my house follow:

                                               Since the yard where I saw my first cairns
                                               is at the beach, I suspect this one can be
                                               called "Surfer Man."

                                            This cairn could serve as a table.

Cairn as abstract sculpture

Another abstract sculpture, not part of the other


  1. Love them! I want to make one. What an interesting blog post this is! The photos are wonderful.

  2. These are really beautiful! I want to make one too!