Vitrified forts (was Re: Information & Power /Alexandria library)

Jeffrey Fabijanic (
Fri, 7 May 1999 12:33:55 -0400

Dwayne wrote:

>> > The vitrified forts in ireland?
>> You mean the mounds? Pure human drudgery moving earth.
>If you don't know what I am referring to, please refrain from
>commenting. *Obviously* I would not bring up mounds of earth
>in such a discussion now, would I?
>No, not mounds of earth, forts made of rock which has been
>heated up and fused into glass.

I believe the "virtrified forts" are primarily features of *Scotland*, not Ireland (although there are a couple sites there as well). There have been several experiments which have recreated the fusing of granite blocks using quite simple stack-and-cook techniques. Note that the blocks are not completely glassed - only the outer layer of the stones are fused.

Fwiw, when I was in 8th grade, our social studies/history teacher had us build a "charcoal mound" as part of our instruction in early Colonial American economics. It took less than a week for a few dozen 13 year olds to cut sod and cedar wood, stack it into a mound a story high, fire it with coal and let it smoulder and rend the wood. We watched it carefully, and pulled off many gallons of kerosene during that time. At the end of the smoulder, we tore down the sod, and pulled out several hundred pounds of high-quality charcoal, which would have been suitable for firing glass - glass making was the BIG industry in early colonial America (we sold the charcoal and the kerosene to a local dealer to help fund our class field trip). The stainless steel grating (used to hold the ten pounds of starter coal), which had been approximately one meter square and made of 1cm thick rods, was melted into a puddle of slag at the bottom of the pile; and the rock under the pile (cntrl NJ slate and gneiss mix) was fused. Clearly, a similar method could be adapted to fire a stone wall at high temperature.

The ancients were as smart and clever as we (perhaps more so at times), and I have no doubt that there is knowledge and technique that we once knew, and do not know now. But I think that stone building techniques are not likely amongst them. Look instead to botanical and psychological lore. And personally, I think of these less as "Lost Secrets of the Ancients!" (cue incidental music) and more as "Poorly Recorded Trade Secrets of People Who are Dead Now"!

|    Jeffrey Fabijanic, Designer         The Future exists,
|        Primordial Software               first in Imagination,
|   "Software of the First Order"            then in Will,
|    Boston, MA  * (617) 983-1369              and finally in Reality.