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1 Breckamore Cottages, Clotherholme, Ripon, North Yorkshire - Tel: 07968 115 146

   

2000 EST. - DRY STONE WALLING ASSOCIATION REGISTERED - TUITION CLASS TRAINING

History Of Dry Stone Walling
 
Dry stone walling is an ancient craft, using only stone with no mortar to build them. Dry stone walls are a culturally important human contribution to the landscape. The craftsmanship used to build dry stone walls and structures has developed over thousands of years since the Neolithic period. Examples include the Neolithic village of Skara Brae on Orkney, built in 3000 BC, the buildings of Newgrange in Ireland, the Brochs of the Celts and around the world from Egypt, Japan and South America, to the turf walls of Iceland. What is so impressive is the high level of craftsmanship attained by these ancient civilisations. It is not uncommon for the joints in between stones to be made so tight and with such pressure that you can’t even fit a razor blade in the joint.

In the UK, field walls or boundary walls were used by the Celts, as nomadic pastures and hunting gave way to settled farming, as a way of stock-proofing animals or marking out crop fields. Stone circles, and a surrounding irregular patchwork of ditches and dykes, were a trademark of the Celtic field system. During the Roman invasions, fairly cohesive tribal federations developed, capable of erecting extensive fortifications and defensive stonework.

The next main period of wall building began in the early Middle Ages, from Anglo Saxon to Viking times, and in this period the field system really developed. Walls still standing now near Hawes have been dated back to Viking times. Many of those field walls are only noticeable by the footings left in the ground where the old boundaries originally were. The next definable walling period started from the 14th and 15th centuries and continued till the 18th century. Construction was at its height in the Elizabethan period, when land enclosure acts were being enforced.

Today there are 69,926 miles of dry stone wall in England alone. Of that, 12% is derelict and 17% consists of remnants, while only 13% is stock-proof and 38% is showing major signs of deterioration. So there is potentially a lot of work to be done.
 
Landscaping And Garden Walls
 
The craft is now being utilised in sculpture and modern buildings, where its character and strong visual impact is reaching a new audience. There has been a noticeable increase of stonework in the form of garden walls, functional or purely decorative, landscaping the stone to apply creative pattern into our gardens. Dry stone walls come into their own functionally when retaining the higher ground by letting the water through, acting as a sieve system, releasing the potential pressure that water build-up can create. Dry stone steps, butts, flower-beds, rockeries, arches, cairns, pine-cone cairns, spheres, domes, water features and the sculpting of stone features are all nowadays playing a more common role in the rural building blocks of garden design.

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