Appalachia Folklore

Stacking Up Rocks

The art of stacking rocks

Chatter’s stacked rocks

Between Brasstown and Warne someone stacks rocks. There’s a stack of small rocks on the post of a gate along with a few other stacks, all within a short distance of each other. From the first time I noticed the rocks I thought there was something magical about them.

The road twists and turns alongside Brasstown Creek, and every time I drive it I wonder who stacks the rocks and why they chose the side of the road to display them? The piece of road where the stacks are isn’t exactly convenient to artistic works.

I’ve often thought of stopping to snap a photo of the rocks, but the narrow curvy road doesn’t offer many places to pull off.

Over the years I’ve began to think of the stacked rocks as a magical mystery of Brasstown.

Stacking rocks

Chitter’s stacked rocks

The other day I was putting up clothes and as I glanced at Chatter’s bookshelf I thought “Well I’ll be, right there’s a stack of rocks.” I walked to Chitter’s room and checked her bookcase-yep another stack of rocks.

Turns out I have a matched set of magical stacked rocks right under my own roof. To hear my favorite song about stacked rocks go here.



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  • Reply
    April 3, 2019 at 1:34 am

    I have become obsessed with stones for awhile…thinking they remind me of the Holy Land. Getting ready to design our courtyard and planning to incorporate lots of stones. This gave me some great ideas! Thanks.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2016 at 10:52 pm

    I love rocks too – almost as much as old trees, they have a connection with history, we will never have; there’s a reason “pet rocks” became such a popular and recurring fad.
    Did you ever see the Lucille Ball/Desi Arnez movie, The Long Trailer? (I think that’s the right name.) When you need a good laugh about the appreciation of rocks, look it up.

  • Reply
    March 5, 2016 at 11:26 am

    Randy-Sorry you’re not getting the daily emails! The issue is with Google’s Feedburner email service. I had the folks who manage my blog look into the issue, but since they have nothing to do with Google their capabilities are limited. And Google is so big they don’t even answer you back when you email them or ask about an issue on one of their forums.
    Typepad looked over my blog on their service and I even sent them my password so they could look at my feedburner account they can’t find anything wrong. However, they did tell me Feedburner stopped some of the services that support blog feeds. So that is probably whats causing the few people who haven’t been getting the blind pig the issue.
    Feedburner is a free email service. There are paid email services I could use that would make sure all the bugs were worked out, but the only way I could afford them would be to charge people to subscribe and I don’t want to do that : )
    The folks who manage my blog did say readers who weren’t receiving the email could make sure to add my email address to their address book or contacts list. That might possibly fix it for some readers.The email to add is [email protected]
    If this is like most things with google it will suddenly fix itself. At least I hope it does! And remember you can still go directly to the blog by typing in the new post will always be at the top of the page.
    Again-I’m so sorry for this!!

  • Reply
    Rev. Rose Marie "RB" Redmond
    March 4, 2016 at 9:28 pm

    Rock stacking is a very old spiritual form of art, in some places called “cairns.” People have been building them all over the world for centuries, but lately, in some national parks and along some national walkways, there have been efforts to try to stop people from doing it. I can’t say I understand why.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    March 4, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    My mama always said “this is the Command Day of the Year…March 4th.” I just heard on the Radio that today is also “National Hug a G.I. Day” so Tipper, I guess you’ll just have to Hug your daddy…Ken

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    March 4, 2016 at 1:26 pm

    There is a house near me that has several stacked rocks around the foundation and out near the road. They appear to be white flint which isn’t common here. There is one laying down and one standing on in each set. The upright ones are about 1½ to 2 feet tall. They appear to be natural. Definitely not carved. They remind me of elves standing guard around the place. I never see anyone around but the house and yard stays neat and there is a car there sometimes.
    I see quite a few examples of where people have embedded two rocks in the ground so that the visible portion resembles praying hands.

  • Reply
    March 4, 2016 at 1:12 pm

    Enjoyed this post and the comments. Yes, I also leave small stones on some gravestones when visiting cemeteries. In my study of cemetery symbols, I’ve learned this is a common practice in the Jewish faith as well.
    Great song, too!

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    March 4, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    This morning just before 11:30 I happened to notice a tune on our local radio station. It is #91 on your Playlist “Gathering Flowers From The Hillside” by Paul and Pap, another of my Favorites. I remember Ben asking why did they sing such Sad Songs alot and someone said that’s just life’s way of many songs…Ken

  • Reply
    Doug Bishop
    March 4, 2016 at 11:58 am

    In his novel, The Lonesome Gods, Louis L’Amour wrote about Indians who placed a rock on a cairn beside the trail as a tribute to the Gods.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    March 4, 2016 at 11:40 am

    Loved this post today…The girls may be unknowingly zeroing in on their Irish or Scottish past. Making cairns in their rooms. Marking their trail so to speak…ha
    I too love the song!
    I have stacked rocks when sitting in a woodland or creek as a child and as a adult…sometimes adding a stick or two…Why? I don’t know? Just love to do it!
    I just love the look and the meditation involved in doing it! When or if I see little pebbles that look like little stacks or circle rings my mind imagines fairies as well…ha
    We went to Kentucky (Harlan) last week and had to take a detour due to a rockslide across the interstate to or thru Jellico….Talk about some stacked rocks on that curvy road detour! It was very scary looking up at some of the large rocks just barely balanced on another rock.
    The mountains of NC and TN also have some of the most beautiful stacked rocks. Imagine the man, I think his name was Spence that cleared those rocks…
    Of course, down thru middle Tennessee there are visible from the highways long trails of stacked fence rows..
    Every farmer has stacked rocks while clearing for new garden or homestead. Daddy said he hated clearing new ground to plow…”More rocks than dirt!” he said! That was back in the day of mules and plows and mule pulled sleds with a load of rock…ha
    Stacking rocks can be a work of art…I have glued rocks on displays for my miniatures that I used to make and sell with the kiln fired animal figurines…Check out Michael Grab he is a relatively new rock or stone stacker…but gaining fame with his abilities…his website is Gravity Glue!
    The ultimate round stone and rock stacker was the Lord!…No one, not one can reach the pinnacle of His art….
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    March 4, 2016 at 11:15 am

    Many Native American groups have cairns, or stacked rocks, as part of their culture. I loved reading all the other iterations of stacked rocks, particularly Stones of Remembrance and leaving a small stone on a tomb when visiting a loved one’s grave.
    Love the song, too.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    March 4, 2016 at 10:57 am

    Chitter and Chatter are real “Rock Hounds” anyway. They get that from their mama, and when you all were on my property awhile back, the first thing I noticed was how the girls were interested in finding rocks.
    I don’t know what happened to them, but my daddy had quart jars full of different looking rocks. He loved to hunt ’em too…Ken

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    March 4, 2016 at 10:33 am

    Out a jeep trail on top of the Cohutta Mountains in Murray County, GA is a landmark the locals call The Rock Altar. It is a roughly circular mound of mostly small stones, about 8 – 10 feet in diameter and about 3 feet high. The zzstory behind it is that long ago a local minister prayed there. He, or someone else, started leaving a stone as a symbolic laying down and leaving a burden. Gradually, the story of the place and its tradition spread by word of mouth. To this day, individuals or small groups gather at the Rock Altar and add more stones to the mound.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    March 4, 2016 at 10:04 am

    Some people call them zen stones others are called cairns. I find them interesting and have stacked a few myself. To me they represent the balance between man and nature.
    When visiting grave sites of my family or friends I leave a small stone there as a remembrance. Do you or any of the other readers do that?

  • Reply
    Randy Higgins
    March 4, 2016 at 9:41 am

    Good morning…
    Just wondering if you are still having problems with the feed proxy. We have not received the blog to our email for a week or so now. Thank you
    The Higgins clan

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    March 4, 2016 at 8:25 am

    Reminds me of the dry stack walls in the Kentucky Bluegrass country. At one time the knowledge and skill to make them had all but disappeared but was revived in the nick of time. To do that, some folks had to travel to England to the historic home of the art and be taught it by those who had inheirited it as a traditional folkway.
    I had a teacher in grade school who at one time worked running gas pipelines. They would have to dissemble and re-assemble the walls. A co-worker of his found a pestle in a wall inscribed “D.Boone”.
    When I think of stacked rocks, I think of the remains of stone chimneys at the old houseplaces. They make me wonder where that family went and what became of them. To me, they are more melancholy than gravestones.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    March 4, 2016 at 8:03 am

    When we were building our house, we stacked a group of rocks under the trees in front of the house as an altar to God. The rocks are still there, but got knocked down during the building. I need to get a little mortar and put them together permanently.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    March 4, 2016 at 7:37 am

    I love it, the girls are in sync with each other, the water and the earth!
    Wonder where the rock stacking came from. Where I used to walk in Black Mountain there was a creek beside the trail and frequently there were rock stacks there.
    The song was great and fit perfectly and was very well done !

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    March 4, 2016 at 7:30 am

    Tipper–Stacking rocks likely traces back into man’s dim and distant past. Inuit often used them as signposts, New Age folks seem to pile them up everywhere, and I’ve come across them from caribou hunting grounds in far northern Quebec to trout streams in New Zealand. While I can’t personally recall having ever piled them up, clearly there’s something appealing about doing so. I suspect that is especially true of artistically creative folks such as Chitter and Chatter (and lack of creativity may explain why I’ve never done it). Anyway, I always enjoy seeing stacked rocks on trout streams, and that’s where I’ve encountered them most frequently.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Donna Wilson King
    March 4, 2016 at 7:14 am

    In some cultures, stacked rocks are called Stones of Remembrance. In Joshua 4, the Israelites stacked stones as a remembrance that God dried up the Jordan River so they could cross to the other side.

  • Reply
    March 4, 2016 at 6:30 am

    Love the group and the song!

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