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A wall's style and method of construction will vary, depending on the type of stone available, its intended use and local tradition.Most older walls are constructed from stones and boulders cleared from the fields during preparation for agriculture (field stones) but many also from stone quarried nearby.

In the United States they are common in areas with rocky soils, such as New England, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania and are a notable characteristic of the bluegrass region of central Kentucky as well as Virginia, where they are usually referred to as rock fences or stone fences, and the Napa Valley in north central California.

They may also be found throughout the Mediterranean, including retaining walls used for terracing.

Such constructions are common where large stones are plentiful (for example, in The Burren) or conditions are too harsh for hedges capable of retaining livestock to be grown as reliable field boundaries.

Many junctions are so perfect that not even a knife fits between the stones.

The structures have persisted in the high earthquake region because of the flexibility of the walls and that in their double wall architecture, the two portions of the walls incline into each other.

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