Stone masonry is a form of construction using natural stone and mortar to make load-bearing and non-bearing walls. Benefitting from the inherent durability and weather-resistant properties of natural stone, stone masonry is one of the oldest trades in human history that has been used for buildings, structures, monuments, cities, and sculptures around the world. Because of the differences between various irregular natural stone types, shapes, and sizes, multiple methods of stone masonry construction have been developed in order to respond to unique project demands and locations. Stone masonry types are distinguished by how tooled and shaped the stones are, and whether the stones are laid in consistent mortared horizontal courses or organized in random or uncoursed ways. While traditional stone masonry walls were typically bearing walls, today stone is more commonly used as a non-structural facing veneer that is tied back to a structural concrete or masonry wall.
Cyclopean masonry is a form of stonework where massive stone boulders are fitted together with minimum gaps between adjacent stones. Typically without any tooling, leftover gaps in cyclopean walls are generally filled with smaller stones without mortar. Cyclopean masonry is notably found in ancient Mycenaean architecture and is named after the mythical Cyclops who would have the strength necessary to move the enormous stones into place.
Coursed rubble stone masonry is made with broken stones of widely different sizes and qualities that are laid in level courses. One of the most common forms of masonry construction, coursed rubble stones are typically hammer dressed to be shaped into more controlled and equal sizes. Coursed rubble masonry is laid with continuous and approximately level courses that can have varied heights along the length of each course.
Squared rubble stone masonry consists of stones squared on all joints through facing methods of hammering or chiseling the stone. Squared rubble can consist of various sized stones and can be laid in equal courses, coursed every third or fourth stone, or uncoursed. Squared rubble stone masonry is often found in hilly regions with readily available quality and cheap stones.
Coursed ashlar stone masonry is a construction type built from tooled and dressed ashlar stones with uniform properties throughout. High in cost, labor, and material waste caused by the tooling processes, coursed ashlar masonry is laid with equal heights and joints between every consecutive layer of construction.
Random uncoursed rubble stone masonry is made by stacking broken stones of widely different sizes and qualities. Considered the cheapest and roughest type of stone masonry, random uncoursed rubble masonry is typically made up of stones pulled directly from the land with minimal efforts used to to prepare the corners of the stones before they are laid. Large stones are laid first and the spaces between are followed with smaller broken stones. Random rubble masonry is laid with discontinuous but roughly level courses with expressed faces to emphasize the natural qualities of the stone shapes.