The Historic Rock Walls of Grates Cove
Grates Cove is home to a Historic National Monument, recognizing its acres of rock walls as a site of unique historic and cultural importance. At the commemoration ceremony held June 29, 1997, the Honourable Fred Mifflin said, "The walled landscape of Grates Cove is the largest and best preserved such historical treasure in our Province. By formally commemorating it, we are ensuring that an important witness to our history and link that binds us to our past will not be lost".
From the last 1700's to early 1900's, local residents used the rocks to define spaces within their environment. The rocks were thrown, stacked and piled into more than 160 acres of land to set aside fields, create gardens, store vegetables, protect livestock and to use as cemeteries.
Grates Cove represents the single best example of this "living history" anywhere in the Province. The windswept vista of the hills surrounding the cove are intertwined with these rock walls as far as the eye can see, making the scenery truly spectacular. There are easy walking trails that take you along the cliffs and barrens around Grates Cove, showing many wonderful examples of these rock walls. One can easily imagine the livestock and potatoes that were once contained within these walls, protecting them from the wind and natural predators. These rock walls are one of the many things that make Grates Cove such a unique place to visit, and are a photographer's dream!
Type of Rock Wall Formations
Piled or Thrown
A wall made simply by rocks being tossed into a pile to surround a garden. Although rocks vary in size, they were usually aranged with larger ones on the bottom or the outside. Natural outcrops and very large boulders were incorporated into the walls and gaps became paths.
In some gardens, more care was taken in sorting, stacking and balancing multi-sized rocks. Larger stones were placed to creat a wall 3 to 4 feet wide. Higher than a piled wall, with wooden gates, it provided good protection from roaming livestock.
The most carefully constructed garden walls were 3 to 5 feet high, built with interlocking and balanced stones. Many had two faces, with the area between filled with small stones so that water could filter through. The built wall afforded good shelter from driving rains and high winds.