Cairns: Messengers in Stone

Cairns: Messengers in Stone

by David Williams


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Cairns: Messengers in Stone by David Williams

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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 random stacks of rocks -- are surprisingly rich in stories and meaning. For thousands of years cairns have been used by people to connect to the landscape and communicate with others, and are often an essential guide to travelers. Cairns, manmade rock piles can indicate a trail, mark a grave, serve as an altar or shrine, reveal property boundaries or sacred hunting grounds, and even predict astronomical activity. The Inuit have more than two dozen terms to describe cairns and their uses!

In Cairns: Messengers in Stone, geologist and acclaimed nature writer David B. Williams (Stories in Stone: Travels through Urban Geology) explores the history of cairns from the moors of Scotland to the peaks of the Himalaya -- where they come from, what they mean, why they’re used, how to make cairns, and more. Cairns are so much more than a random pile of rocks, knowing how to make cairns can drastically alter the meaning of the formation. Hikers, climbers, travelers, gardeners, and nature buffs alike will delight in this quirky, captivating collection of stories about cairns.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594856815
Publisher: Mountaineers Books, The
Publication date: 10/28/2012
Pages: 158
Sales rank: 1,255,976
Product dimensions: 7.46(w) x 5.44(h) x 0.48(d)

About the Author

DAVID B. WILLIAMS is a freelance natural history writer and author of The Seattle Street-Smart Naturalist: Field Notes from the City and the highly-praised Stories in Stone. His work has appeared in Smithsonian, Popular Mechanics, California Wild, and High Country News, and he is a contributing writer for Earth magazine. Williams lives with his wife in the Green Lake neighborhood of Seattle. Visit him online at

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