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  • Writer's pictureKendra DeKay

The Surprising Origins of Aiken's Wavy Walls

So, what’s the deal with the “wavy walls” you see around Aiken?

You’ve probably noticed them curiously if you’re new to Aiken or visiting, perhaps the most visible being the white serpentine brick wall surrounding the Aiken County Historic Museum on Laurens street (where it takes the sharp left hand turn coming from downtown).

You may have heard that these walls are not purely decorative, although they are quite beautiful. The reason for their unique shape is that despite appearances, they actual use FEWER bricks than a traditional straight wall, because they don’t require columns or buttresses to be stable; the serpentine shape provides the stability.  

The 5 dollar term for these supporting alternating curves is “sinusoidal curves.” (Just by reading that word, your IQ went up by a point!) 🤓

Snake walls are also used in orchards in along an East-West line because they capture and radiate heat from the sun in temperate climates, warming the fruit trees and thought to improve growth and yield. 🍎 

My favorite name for these walls is the adorably British one: Crinkle Crankle walls. 

You may also know these walls are commonly seen in the eastern English countryside but there’s also one from the 1840’s at Zuylen Castle in the Netherlands, and one in Rome dating back to the late 1500’s.

BUT… did you know they are thought to have originated 3,000 years ago with Egyptian architecture?!

Check out this article from 2021 about the largest ancient city so far discovered in Egypt, with photos of beautifully preserved serpentine walls! Wow! 

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