This past weekend I had a mission, and that mission was to get all the rocks and masonry debris picked up out of the yard. I did, and did not, accomplish that mission.
On the one hand, I moved a LOT of crap out of the yard. Bricks, half bricks, pieces of an old, busted up concrete slab, foundation stone, pavers, and what I initially thought was some kind of flagstone-esque rock, I moved a lot of all of it. In the process I broke a rake and damaged a wheelbarrow.
On the other hand, what was visible on the surface only represented about 25% of the debris that needed to be removed; every time I randomly stuck a shovel or pick in the yard - almost every single time - there was the unmistakable 'clink' of metal on rock. The amount of stuff that was buried was insane. The argument could be made that some of it was used, at one time, as bed/plant edging and walkways, but it also looked like somebody was in the demo business and needed a place to dump things from time to time. Over the years, a lot of that stuff wound up buried, or covered with ivy, or just became part of the "landscape". Needless to say, I still have some digging to do, and rocks to unbury and remove.
I got started on Friday afternoon, and much like clearing all the vegetation, there was no real strategy other than picking a spot in the yard and getting after it. Where I started, by the ash pit, most of the stuff in the ground was brick and small, irregularly shaped rocks. From there I worked my way east and wound up by the green shed.
It looked like there had been a walkway of sorts at one point leading to the shed, consisting of large, flat stones. I didn't care what kind of rock they were, where they came from, or what purpose they served; I just wanted them out of the yard. The shed will go away soon, and while I'm not opposed to stone or brick walkways, I want to blank slate the back yard with some grass, and then do with it what I want (including the construction of what will be deemed "The Southside Home For Wayward Chickens"), not settle for the mess that the last person left me.
Anyhow, I was in a little bit of shock over just how much garbage lie under the yard's surface, so I wasn't paying much attention to what I was digging up; I was just pryin' things outta the ground and chuckin' 'em in the wheelbarrow and dumpin' 'em in a pile over by the garage as fast as I could. So all the big, flat stones that appeared to be some kind of walkway, I just assumed they were flagstone, or something like flagstone.
Saturday morning I picked up where I left off Friday over by the shed. What had started out as a single layer of big flat rocks turned into multiple layers of buried, big flat rocks, and my wheelbarrow loads quickly went from mixed stone and masonry to consisting, exclusively, of those big, flat rocks. Or what I thought were rocks.
After moving a couple wheelbarrow loads Saturday morning, my big debris pile started to fall over and as I restacked some of the fallen stones, one of the stones I grabbed appeared to have something carved or engraved in it. I was moving faster with the stones than my brain could keep up with, and it was already about 400°; it didn't dawn on me to further inspect the stone with the engraving until 2 of the next 3 or 4 stones I grabbed to restack had similar markings.
I stopped what I was doing, caught my breath, and cleaned off the 3 engraved stones as best I could with my gloves. As I was doing that, I started to realize that all the big, flat stones were a little too flat to be natural, and they were all fairly uniform in thickness, another unnatural feature. I also discovered a few pieces that had some kind of mortar on one side, which I had mistaken for natural rock formations. After studying the engraved stones a bit, I realized that they weren't stones at all, at least not natural stones.
What I had in the back yard was precast, cementitious "stones", once attached as a veneer to the front facade of a building, which can commonly be found on homes in Lafayette Square or any number of north city neighborhoods. In other words, it's old, old stuff.
I wish I knew where it came from, or what building. And only a few pieces had the engraving, so there weren't too many clues there. I'm still planning on throwing it in a dumpster at some point, but I thought it was a pretty cool find, or at least more interesting than the random bricks, foundation stones, pavers, and old concrete scattered throughout the yard.