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Quarries in Kethaela and Dragon Pass


Joerg

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Urban construction in Dragon Pass and Kethaela is using a whole lot of masonry and quarried stone, from the cyclopean walls inherited from the Vingkotling Age or giant builders through dwarf-built artefacts like the eastern wall of Boldhome or its pockets, or the Heortling-made royal roads of Sartar, the housing in the reclaimed EWF (and Vingkotling) era hill forts like Clearwine, the fortifications of the Sartar dynasty or the Tarshite dynasties.

Much of the known rock stratum in the region is sedimentary - sandstone, chalk, or riverine and glacial valleys. The tall mountains have grown from volcanic pushed or pierced upward tectonics, or from the tectonic seeds planted by Larnste, bringing up deeper layers of "hard earth" from below.

Erosion can be supposed to have been strong in places where Storm and Sea battled it out. Torrential rainfall, severe mountaintop frost and at higher altitude at times rock-shattering storms helped to carry away some of the material pushed up, and then we have beheaded mountains like Shadow Plateau or Stormwalk Mountain.

Despite the dominant distribution of chalk and sandstone substrata, karst regions appear to be rather rare, or otherwise covered by sufficient glacial or riverine deposites to avoid much of the water sink effect. Other places with known and extensive karst regions like e.g. Snake Pipe Hollow have more precipitation from the Skyfall than even a thoroughly hollowed out karst substratrum can carry away. Being able to find dry caverns beneath Snake Pipe Hollow is probably thanks to the presence of the Chaos rift down there, where the Maggot roams. Something similar to David Scott's thoughts on the Long Dry may happen there.

What kind of rock is used by the masons, and where do they harvest it?

Whitewall implies the use of white rock, as the name has stuck even through centuries of neglect, which makes white-washing (chalk plaster) as source of that color rather unlikely. I still think that the material used there would have been something like white quartzite, like the stones used in the (artistically nice but probably not exactly historically correct) front face of Newgrange, a material retaining its gleaming reaction to the sun even when partially covered by algae, lichen and moss. Calcite faces tend to darken considerably as these botanical settlers take root not just on the surface but also inside the outer layers of that rock, unless continuously eroded and newly exposed (like e.g. the white cliffs of Dover). I wouldn't think that an impregnable fortress sacred to one of the forces of erosion would slowly be weathered away like that.

The rock covering the royal highways of Sartar must be as durable as that used in the construction of the Roman highways. The prototype of these roads were probably dwarf-built, with the road stretch between Boldhome and Jonstown very likely the work of mostali masons and engineers. These roads have been around for 125 years without significant deterioration, which is quite a feat when comparing them to the motorways and highways in the modern western world. This would mean that there have to be some sources of road-building material along those highways from which material for repairs come, or otherwise there must have been quarries of very high-quality rock (e.g. hexagonal slivers of basalt) that created a paving that a century of heavy wagon traffic couldn't wear down significantly.

Depending on the quality of the rock, material would be transported over quite some distance - the sarsen for Stonehenge was carried in from Wales, for instance, and marble and porphyrite was shipped across the entire mediterranean.

On the other hand, even in places with a long tradition of masonry like early imperial Rome, an astonishing amount of construction would be done with bricks from burnt clay. That method does use up a lot of fuel, though, not just for burning the bricks but also for burning the chalk needed for the mortar, and in the case of opus cementitium, also the basaltic ash that creates the concrete.

But where do (and did) the Colymar quarry the stone for the town houses of Clearwine? From the illustration, the rocky outcrop on which it was built is not quarried on any side, and doing so would only invite any besieging force to use that quarry to bring down that side of that hill, walls and all.

Is overseeing such a quarry done at clan or tribal level? Is it handled by specialists, or is this a joint effort a few times in the year?

How much time to the people in the quarry take to break off big slabs of rock? One method would be to chisel just enough space to insert very dry wooden wedges and then make them expand by pouring water over them, creating a rather deep fissure. Then in Dark Season one can fill these cracks with (heated) water and use the expansion of it when freezing to widen the crack and push the slab from its bedrock.

Depending on the material, the slabs might be sawed into shapes using ropes and sand or gravel. That method can also be used to separate well-formed blocks out of the bedrock if you have access gaps (whose material you may have harvested as gravel for the roadbuilding or, in case of calcite or marble, as raw material for mortar), possibly made with mining technology as discussed recently.

 

Edited by Joerg
Editor acted up, so I had to publish halfway through to get back linefeed
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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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The only caveat I can come up with regarding the geology of Whitewall is that it is very close to a Gimpy's called the Cave Inn, and that the Worcha Rage legend is associated with waves crashing against the fortress... (and hence, perhaps, fossil remnants of the piscine army?)

Also Jeff Richards wrote it was limestone here: http://glorantha.temppeli.org/digest/heroquest-rpg/2006.01/29537.html. The non-canon stories by John Hughes also assume limestone.

This rather suggests karst to me.

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The hill (or ridge) definitely is made of limestone. The trouble is that limestone ridges like this don't remain white, and neither do walls made of it.

And my quartzite suggestion for (the facing of) the walls (not for the rock the city is built upon) is at least a decade older.

The construction occurred in the late Vingkotling Age (or earlier). Rock like that would be found in river deposits.

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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1 hour ago, Joerg said:

The construction occurred in the late Vingkotling Age

I like the crystal nuances here so close to "hard earth" and his death (poor old Stone) . . . I wonder whether Whitewall might've originally been "white" with newly cut lime and the name stuck even though the walls have weathered. 

While Belintar might've been reluctant to restore the defenses of a particularly recalcitrant Sixth he probably did have elemental magic to regrow the carbonate  (!) if motivated. "Behold thy city, white in wall in fact as well as in name! Thus is my promise kept!"

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2 hours ago, scott-martin said:

I like the crystal nuances here so close to "hard earth" and his death (poor old Stone) . . . I wonder whether Whitewall might've originally been "white" with newly cut lime and the name stuck even though the walls have weathered. 

While Belintar might've been reluctant to restore the defenses of a particularly recalcitrant Sixth he probably did have elemental magic to regrow the carbonate  (!) if motivated. "Behold thy city, white in wall in fact as well as in name! Thus is my promise kept!"

He does have a certain association with walls, and the 'guardians' he deployed to prevent a new Hendriki king are (my intuition says) most likely a magically strengthened form of the traditional testing spirits used to prove kingship... One of these testing spirits could be the stone itself, a 'glittering rock bone serpent' defender slain and bound into the site after Worcha Rage?

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