Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Cairns: Messengers in Stone” as Want to Read:
Cairns: Messengers in Stone
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Cairns: Messengers in Stone

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  37 ratings  ·  10 reviews
Praise for author David B. Williams:

“Makes stones sing” --Kirkus Reviews
“Williams’s lively mixture of hard science and piquant lore is sure to fire the readers’ curiosity” --Publisher’s Weekly

*Part history, part folklore, part geology
* Features charming black-and-white illustrations

From meadow trails to airy mountaintops and wide open desert, cairns -- those seemingly rand
Paperback, 192 pages
Published October 1st 2012 by Mountaineers Books (first published January 1st 2012)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Cairns, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Cairns

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 234)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Very early in this book the author wonders out loud whether it was a male or a female who built "that first cairn." He answers this really besides-the-point question with an equally silly answer: I tend to think it was some guy. He comes to this conclusion based, he says, on "circumstantial evidence", because "guys like to play with rocks, to build and engineer things, and to throw rocks." The direct evidence is that the author prefers rocks to logic. "Not that there aren't gals out there who do ...more
Judy Beaudette
I've always thought of cairns as relatively benign little rock piles that point the way. After reading Williams' book Cairns: Messengers in Stone, I won't make that mistake again! He gives the reader an exhaustive tour of dozens of cairns all over the world -- including one that contains over 50,000 stones and a group of cairns that featured prominently in a 1800's "missing persons" case that reeks of cannibalism. Who knew that cairns have served as post offices, poetry depots, public art, shrin ...more
In Cairns: Messengers in Stone, naturalist and geologist David B. Williams talks not only about the history of these manmade stone path markers, but the variety of styles, materials used (here's where the geology comes in handy), and several specific cairns that have interesting anecdotes with them. There are also personal confessions of cairn busting (when working for the park services, they really hate it when hikers build their own cairns leading off the trails), and instructions on how to bu ...more
Michael Brady
David Williams has a very special way of looking at the world...starting with just a pile of rocks.

Cairns: Messengers in Stone, is one seriously clever, entertaining, and informative book. As author David B. Williams examines the natural and unnatural history of cairns, the people who make and use them, the stones they're made of and how they age, and what grows upon and around them, he treats the reader to a rich and involving story that in less capable hands might have been merely a disordered
It’s not uncommon to find stone cairns used as trail markers; without such guides to mark the trail, a hiker might easily become lost in a strange and unfamiliar landscape. But cairns have also been used throughout the world as more than just trail markers. They offer a tangible space to pause and get our bearings. They hint for us to stop and listen to the wind. We may stand at a cairn and remember or turn within to ponder the meaning in this pile of stones. What does this place mean? What are ...more
Toren Johnson

Devoting my life to the mountains, I always have found comfort in cairns. "At the most basic level, you can define a carin as a pile of rocks. But this definition doesn't do justice to the myriad shapes and sizes of carins found around the globe. Nor does it convey the many reasons that people have build carins for thousands of years. Yet, when you see a cairn, whether lovingly built and maintained or slapped up for a single use, you know what you are looking at. You know that someone has t
Ron Mcfarland
Sometime ago someone said "if you are not spending time trying to find the trail - you are not spending enough time outside" not sure who or where the quote came from but it motivated me to read David Williams little book Cairns.

Turns out it is not so little and goes into great detail and depth about the history of Cairns, the environmental aspect, dating of cairns and much more.

So much, that the next time I see one, it will automatically trigger questions like who made it, how long ago and is
Casea Peterson
Right away you can tell that Williams enjoyed writing this book. His experience traveling around the world and working as a park ranger really beefed up the chapters of his book. He simply loves cairns. He loves every little thing about them! From a scientific viewpoint to tales of legends and lore, Williams makes you care a little bit more about those small (or LARGE) piles of rock that can be found all around the globe or right in your backyard. Now I will probably never build a cairn unless I ...more
Over the past couple years, as I have become more of a hiker, I have been fascinated with the cairns that I have occasionally seen by the side of the trail. I have often wondered why they were there and who built them. This book answered those questions and others that I didn't even know I had. I found the chapters on dating the age of cairns and expedition cairns the most intriguing.
David Holtzclaw
Cairns, is a delightful hike through the history of these curious piles of rock. It is a thorough & at times witty view, making the reader want to hit the trail, with a rock from home.
Rose is currently reading it
Jul 01, 2015
Sara marked it as to-read
Jun 20, 2015
Samuel marked it as to-read
May 22, 2015
Lizzy marked it as to-read
May 13, 2015
Kate Rosendale
Kate Rosendale marked it as to-read
Mar 02, 2015
Alan marked it as to-read
Feb 25, 2015
Kelly Brenner
Kelly Brenner marked it as to-read
Feb 25, 2015
Bart marked it as to-read
Feb 25, 2015
Kris marked it as to-read
Feb 25, 2015
Danae added it
Jan 14, 2015
Caroline Berg
Caroline Berg marked it as to-read
Jan 05, 2015
abcdefg marked it as to-read
Dec 31, 2014
Tim Clifford
Tim Clifford marked it as to-read
Dec 29, 2014
Alastair Kemp
Alastair Kemp marked it as to-read
Oct 28, 2014
Jack is currently reading it
Jul 28, 2014
Allison marked it as to-read
Jun 04, 2014
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Cleansing the Doors of Perception: The Religious Significance of Entheogenic Plants and Chemicals
  • Inside the Neolithic Mind: Consciousness, Cosmos, and the Realm of the Gods
  • Essential Sacred Writings from Around the World: A Thematic Sourcebook on the History of Religions
  • The Prehistory of the Mind: The Cognitive Origins of Art, Religion and Science
  • Muses, Madmen, and Prophets: Rethinking the History, Science, and Meaning of Auditory Hallucination
  • The Lost Civilizations of the Stone Age
  • Why We Believe What We Believe: Uncovering Our Biological Need for Meaning, Spirituality, and Truth
  • Zen and the Brain
  • Rational Mysticism: Spirituality Meets Science in the Search for Enlightenment
  • The "God" Part of the Brain: A Scientific Interpretation of Human Spirituality and God
  • Archaeology and Language: The Puzzle of Indo-European Origins
  • South Pole: An Account of the Norwegian Antarctic Expedition in the 'Fram', 1910-12
  • The Loss of the Ship Essex, Sunk by a Whale
  • Language: The Cultural Tool
  • Rats, Lice, and History: Being a Study in Biography, Which, After Twelve Preliminary Chapters Indispensable for the Preparation of the Lay Reader, Deals With the Life History of Typhus Fever
  • Shackleton
  • Calculated Risks: How to Know When Numbers Deceive You
  • Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain
Stories in Stone: Travels Through Urban Geology The Seattle Street-Smart Naturalist: Field Notes from the City Naturalist's Guide to Canyon Country Transmission Electron Microscopy: A Textbook for Materials Science Grand Views of Canyon Country: A Driving Guide

Share This Book