The art of dry-stone walling

The art of dry stone walling concerns the know-how related to making stone constructions by stacking stones upon each other, without using any joining material. In a narrower sense, the art of dry-stone walling refers to building using broken stones with minimum alternation or no alteration at all. As a broader sense, the art of dry-stone walling may include stacking of stone plates and slabs, construction of buildings using the dressed stone, but without any joining material. This art has been used along the Adriatic coast and in the Mount Dinara region of Croatia ever since the prehistory until today.  The geographical spread of the dry-stone walling, its technical perfection and the importance for the community are related to the density of population and economic activities, as well as the method and means of transformation of the karst with the purpose of agricultural production.

FOTO: Reconstruction of dry stone walling in Petrebišća, author: 4 Grada Dragodid

In the areas of bare karst, the dry-stone walling is an irreplaceable manual technique used for building of shelters, paths and obstacles, especially for the adjustment of stone terrains for agricultural activities. The largest part of of the building process belongs to the first and, in terms of labour, the most intensive phases of occupying new plots of land – when building fences, cleaning the land from stone, making terraces, and simple stone shelters. In a later phase of the exploitation of such locations, the art of dry-stone walling is used for maintenance and repair of buildings, storage of the surplus stone extracted from the land in land-processing, functional readjustments and similar. The most skilled bricklayers are recognised and appreciated in their communities, and the degree of their special and professional skills depends on the circumstances.

Along with minor objects of various purposes, the dry-wall (gromača, međa, mocira, mocir, masiera, redina, prizida, zid, mrtvi zid, mrtvi mir...) represents a typical drywalling product, which appears in different forms in the entire area of Adriatic and Dinaric karst and is a significant characteristic of this landscape.