what we didn't anticipate when repointing our stone walls in the basement ourselves repointing stone walls takes a lot of time

6 Things We Found Inside Our Stone Walls

Oh, the interesting and downright horrifying things we’ve found INSIDE our stone walls will not be easily purged from my memory.

Why would we be looking for things inside our stone walls? And why do we even have stone walls?

These stone walls are, in essence, our foundation walls. The oldest part of our home dates back to the 1780s. The home was added onto a few more times and all of our foundation walls are built with field stone and lime mortar as shown in the photo below.

6 Things We Found Inside Our Stone Walls stone foundation being repointed inside a basement

We’ve been repointing the stone walls in our basement. Repointing means chipping out an inch or so of the surface layer of mortar that has started to fail and replacing it with new lime mortar. It’s a dirty, laborious task but someone has to do it. (Hi! I’m someone. That’s me.)

To be clear, while I’m ALWAYS convinced there is hidden treasure to be found in an old house, we didn’t go looking for things inside our stone walls. We didn’t even know there would be anything to find.

You might think we’re just lucky…or maybe not after you finish this blog post!

So, let’s brush off the mortar dust and get right into the things we found in our stone walls so you can determine how lucky or not we are.

Things We Found Inside Our Stone Walls: 2 Layers of Lime Mortar

We found at least two layers of lime mortar in our walls.

Why is this exciting, Annisa?

Well, misery loves company. The two layers of mortar mean that our stone walls have been repointed at least once, so we aren’t the only schmucks that have been stuck with this project people who have cared about this home.

The layers of mortar also help us roughly date the different additions to our home. All mortar fails given enough time, but in ideal conditions, you’d probably need to repoint the stone every 100 years in a basement. We don’t have documentation of when the largest wall we are working on was built, but we estimated early 1800s. The layers of mortar would support that theory.

6 Things We Found Inside Our Stone Walls stone foundation being repointed inside a basement

Things We Found Inside Our Stone Walls: Horse Hair

When we moved on to repoint a wall supporting the oldest part of the house (circa 1780s), we found something different but not entirely unexpected.

There was horse hair mixed in the lime mortar.

I’m assuming that it is horse hair and not some other type of hair because horse hair was commonly used in plaster, at the time, to make it stronger. It stands to reason that the same logic would be applied to the lime mortar.

Just throw a little horse hair in there! We’ve got plenty! What can it hurt?

Nothing as this particular wall has been standing for almost 250 years.

6 Things We Found Inside Our Stone Walls stone foundation being repointed inside a basement horse hair

For the record, we have not added any horse hair to the lime mortar we’ve been mixing. The results of our mortar concoction are still TBD.

Things We Found Inside Our Stone Walls: Hollow Areas

What we absolutely, positively did not expect to find inside a stone wall was a hollow area!

This doesn’t happen by accident. Someone had to have known it was hollow and was like, “We’re just going to mortar around all this air. Create a little room in there. No one will be the wiser.”

Famous last words.

6 Things We Found Inside Our Stone Walls stone foundation being repointed inside a basement hollow areas

The biggest problem in finding a hollow area inside of a stone wall is that it’s a potential point of failure for the wall as the rocks above the hollow area are not supported by anything below.

But that’s not the only problem.

Things We Found Inside Our Stone Walls: Rodent Nest

Do you know who or what would think they scored the housing lottery if they found a tiny crack in a stone wall and that tiny crack opened up to a giant-to-them cavern?


If you just cringed a little, you’re not alone.

Imagine being me and finding a rodent nest inside the stone walls of my house. The house where you sleep and walk around barefoot and make food and generally feel safe and comfy.

Not anymore.

My first impulse was to burn it all to the ground. My second impulse was to move. When I reminded myself those are probably overreactions (are they though?), my third impulse was to bleach everything in sight.

Anyway, I’m not a fan of rodents.

6 Things We Found Inside Our Stone Walls stone foundation being repointed inside a basement rodent nest

Word to the wise, if any of your cleaning rags or newspapers go missing, I might know who the culprit is.

Things We Found Inside Our Stone Walls: Dog Food

It didn’t dawn on me at the time we found that rodent’s nest (aka the bedroom) that it could get worse.


As it turns out, these were well-to-do rodents and they had a kitchen too.

A kitchen filled with dog food that they had tucked away for the long winter inside my wall.

6 Things We Found Inside Our Stone Walls stone foundation being repointed inside a basement dog food

This is the point in the story where I remind you, dear reader, that we do not have a dog.

In addition, we have not purchased food like this for the cat and the cat food is not kept in the house. For obvious reasons, it is in a separate building.

This pet food stash was probably put here during the previous owners’ tenure, so more than five years ago. Needless to say, we removed all of the pet food from the wall and will close off access to this wall to all of God’s creatures.

Things We Found Inside Our Stone Walls: Heart Rock

I’m not sure how many rocks are needed to make stone walls that are 2 feet deep and 8 feet tall, but it is safe to say it is a high number.

We’ve spent a combined 160 hours on this repointing project so far. In all that time, I’ve only found one heart-shaped rock.

After all the distressing things we found, this was a nice change of pace. I thought about keeping this one because I collect heart-shaped rocks but it was sort of important to the wall.

Plus, I like the idea of a heart-shaped rock holding up the heart of our home. That’s like poetry come to life!

6 Things We Found Inside Our Stone Walls stone foundation being repointed inside a basement heart shaped rock

We haven’t finished repointing the basement, so it is possible that I wrote this blog post too soon and we’ll find something even wilder inside our stone walls. Anything could happen!

However, after reading this, aren’t you glad for your own home and whatever quirks it might have? Heck, I might prefer your home over mine at this point too. Haha!

Have you ever found anything interesting inside the walls of your home? Do share. Leave nothing out. You can always comment on this blog post, email us here, or reach out via Instagram or Facebook.

I hope you have the happiest of days!

Thank you for being here today and encouraging us through all our projects. We appreciate you! If you’d like another blog post to read, I can help with that. Try one of these:

What We Didn’t Anticipate When Repointing Our Stone Walls

Travel: Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library

How To Fix a Stretched-Out Toe Post On a Sandal






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  • Pamela

    I can’t imagine you having to do this enormous job. I also can’t image what it would cost to pay anyone else to do it. We don’t have buildings that old where we live so even while it’s a bit excruciating to watch you undertake this task it is interesting to learn about the history. I’m sure finding a hole in your foundation made your stomach sink! (There’s a faith metaphor in there somewhere for me too.) we’re looking for a new house and don’t even want anything pre 1980s. Too much work 😂🤣. You have my respect.

    • annisa

      Our house is a cautionary tale. LOL! Thank you for following along. It makes my day. I hope you have good luck finding a home that is the perfect fit you…and may there be no unexpected holes in the walls.

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