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The Qualities of Natural Stone
No building material has a longer pedigree than stone; after all, the Stone Age was the first recognized period of human culture, and early man used stone not only as a source of invaluable tools but also as a building material of unparalleled strength, durability and versatility. Stone can be used as it occurs naturally, in boulders or random walks and slabs split and shaped by the forces of nature, or it can be worked into precisely cut blocks that slot together as snugly as jigsaw pieces. Above all, it offers the infinite variety that only a natural-occurring material can exhibit.
The earliest use of stone as a building material was probably the casual gathering of loose-lying surface stone to form simple enclosures for defense and to pen animals. It would soon find a use as a paving material for consolidating soft ground, and by Egyptian times records show that it was being used in the design of decorative gardens as well as the construction of many meticulously engineered pyramids and temples of that period. The Greeks and Romans loved their ornamental sacred groves and public gardens, and by the Middle Ages there was a strong tradition of landscape architecture that was to spread across every culture and every continent. In every case, Stone was the predominant structure feature.
Today, Stone is as popular as ever for creating a wide range of constructions, from the humblest garden wall to the most elaborate stone buildings. No longer are stonemasons restricted to using just the type of stone provided by the accident of local geology; they can within reason, obtain whatever type of stone is required so long as they are prepared to pay for the inevitability of high transport costs and one of the densest building periods materials around.