Stone walls: definitely not a dry subject

Photo by Cathie Shiff

When some people see an old stone wall snaking through a pasture, they view it as much a part of the property as a house or a great oak tree, a testimony to the labors of a long-ago resident and something that should be preserved, even restored. For others, the same stone wall represents a handy above-ground rock quarry for new projects.

Three years ago, Amissville resident David D. Compton visited several freestanding stone walls and retaining walls near his house on Lyle Lane in Battle Run Farms – with heavy equipment contracted to move the stones. The equipment left crude roads where entire walls were removed, save for a trail of stones at ground level that marked where walls had stood.

Court documents report that the work damaged nearly 400 feet of historic walls, and the reason court documents exist on the subject: the stones and walls were not on Compton’s property.

The co-owner of the property adjacent to Compton, Theresa Wood had loved the old stone wall on her land from the first moment she saw it. It figured in her decision to purchase the property as much as the parcel’s mountain views and rolling landscape.

In September 2009, Wood sued Compton, accusing him of trespassing and “conversion” (the latter a legal term that essentially refers to “converting” someone else’s property into one’s own).

The conflict ended last week in Rappahannock County Circuit Court . . .

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