Stone Puzzle

The puzzle is simple to explain: some of the baluster stones are not where they belong, and there are several places where there should be a stone and there is not. So the puzzle is to figure out which stones go where! Then put them right.

This needed to be figured out all of this before moving a single piece. This is one place where trial and error would not do. Remember, the 'pieces' in this puzzle weigh a ton and a half, or more!

Dressed top surfaceNortheast baluster: oblique view


Solved, sort of.

On the north approach there were three stones obviously out of place. Two were on the ground and one was on the northwest wing wall, but was such a different size and shape as the stones around it that it clearly didn't belong there.


The top tier of stones on the north balusters did not continue to the end of the second tier of stones. The tops of the second tier stones had been dressed to receive a stone on top of them. The clear implication was that the misplaced stones belonged on the top tier of the north balusters -- if they fit! The length of the exposed second tier of stones, seen in the northeast baluster: oblique view image, was 214cm.

The length of one of the two stones on the ground, shown before, is 224cm, and its width of 76cm qualifies it as a top tier stone. This stone, which unfortunately has cracked in two, has one end dressed and the other end rustic, intended to be exposed. Therefore, I think the broken stone on the ground belongs on the northeast baluster. Its length, 10cm longer than the exposed second tier stones, means that it would overhang the second tier in the manner established as a defining design element of the balusters.

Dressed top surfaceNorthwest baluster: end view


The length of the exposed second tier of stones, seen the northwest baluster: end view image, is 369cm. The length of the misplaced stone on northwest wing wall, is 193cm, and the remaining stone on the ground is 180cm, a total of 373cm. Both have widths of 77cm qualifying them as top tier stones. Therefore, I think these two stones belong on the top tier of the northwest baluster where we see a 369cm gap. They would leave an overhang of 4cm without considering the width of a joint between them.


Orphan stoneMisplaced stone on northwest wing wall


Replacing the three stones as I have suggested above would improve the appearance of the bridge a great deal. And it would give me a great deal of personal satisfaction, since they were the stones I witnessed being removed from the balusters. In fact it would be tempting for me to say that is enough, we don't need to move any more stones.

The rest of the puzzle.


The solution to the stone puzzle on the south approach to the bridge was far less obvious. Dressed surfaces were exposed, stones didn't fit in the places we found them, and on and on. 


An important factor complicating the puzzle on the south approach escaped my notice for a very long time. While the north approach is quite symmetrical, with the east and west wing walls a mirror image of each other, the south wing walls are not symmetrical, with the symmetry breaking at a point directly above the most southerly point of the south arch. You cannot look at the east wing wall and get an idea of what the west wing wall should look like. It is as though they were designed and built by two different crews.


To make matters more confusing, there are some stones on the southwest wing wall that look like they were placed there just to have some place to put them. One is trimmed and dressed in a style not used anywhere else in the bridge.


That was the challenge. But I'm happy to report the puzzle has been solved, as described in Phase 1 of the restoration plan

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