There is a mystery stone stacker in Aberdeen City. I’ve seen him work from a distance but the moment you get too close, he disappears leaving the only the stacks as a trace. They can be found in several locations: the Mouth of the Don, The Breakwater Beach and Nigg Bay.
There is something very appealing about this activity. It is an unobtrusive form of guerrilla art that has ancient roots. Our ancestors thousands of years ago probably enjoyed the challenge as much as people of all ages do today.
It’s also a skill which improves with practice and which is suitable for any age or ability. Patience is needed and lots of determination as the rocks do fall over a lot, especially once you move beyond large, flat rocks.
There is no rules about having straight stacks either. The P6/7 class at Inverallochy School were quite creative in their efforts as illustrated in this photo, taken by Eunice Stephen(along with the photo below too):
The level of critical thinking and problem solving is high with this sort of activity. Compare it to building a similar tower with a collection of Lego bricks or other artificial construction material. Suddenly there is a real role for the use of natural materials in schools as it encourages new and different ways of working.
It is also a natural step into learning about Inuksuks. These structures are integral to the Inuit culture and life and sometimes referred to as “stone people” who act as guides and way finders across the Arctic landscape.
Another natural progression is to move onto making arches with stone. You begin with two stone stacks of a similar size but have to find the right keystone to complete the structure. There is a wonderful small arts organisation, Responsible Fishing UK, which run workshops on stone balancing and taking the art of stone stacking to new heights. Have a look at their Facebook page too.