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Cairns: Messengers in Stone

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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
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Paperback, 192 pages
Published October 1st 2012 by Mountaineers Books (first published January 1st 2012)
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Tony
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
Michelle
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
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Threesillyrabbits
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
Love.

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
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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
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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
Julie
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.
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