Drystone wall

Today, when most of the former vineyards have been taken over by pines or are just overgrown at first sight one does not notice this is a setting marked by tens of kilometres of drystone walls. Even the smallest areas of red soil in the karst depressions were cultivated, the soil being collected in the hands. Inclined cultivated soil was brought into a horizontal position and so protected from the erosive rains by the building of retaining walls. If the construction of a dry stone wall of about 12 m long and 1.20 to 1.50 m high required a full day’s work by two experienced labourers, let us only try to imagine how many millions of days were invested into these stone pictures. The landscape is marked by ritual mounds and defended by hill forts just like that on neighbouring Brač, in Poljica over the Cetina. But most prevalent are the mounds ceated by the clearing of the meagre soil from which the labourer would remove the stone. He probably put as much energy into this as into digging. These mounds grew, mostly in some circular or conical shape. Their forms were often motivated by function. Elongated mounds, for example, would protect land exposed to the wind; drystone dams prevented the erosion of soil on the steeps and also designated the boundaries. Mostly they were built in the second half of the nineteenth century after in 1850-1860 powdery mildew had ravaged Italian vineyards and then the phylloxera bug the French in 1870 to 1890. To take advantage of this, here and in the whole of Dalmatia, the smallest and meanest scrap of land was cleared.

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