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Dry and Mortared Stone Walling

 

Dry Stone Walling is an ancient craft practised throughout the world with styles differing depending upon the stone resources of a particular area. Dry Stone Walls are often associated with areas such as the Yorkshire Dales and the Cotswolds but they are found countrywide.

The skill of a Dry Stone Waller is ensuring the strength of a wall by the careful selection and positioning of stones. It is often said that finding the right stone for the right place, within the wall, is bit like doing a jigsaw which gets easier the more experience a waller has.

I have been walling for many years both building new walls and rebuilding old ones. I also build mortared stone walls somtimes using lime mortar as it is less solid than ordinary mortar and will breathe with the wall. I feel that it is important to get the ratio of mortar to stone right in order to produce a strong wall which is also aesthetically pleasing.

Dry Stone walls, both freestanding and retaining, can be either single or double width, the most usual in this area being double width where two sides are built up at an angle to each other and in-filled with smaller packing stone. The foundations need to be strong and level and, where possible, through stones provide extra strength. The wall can be topped with coping stones but in some cases lime mortar is used. The cheekend of the wall requires large stones which, in alternate courses, lie across the end of the wall or run lengthways into it. A well built wall should stand for decades.

The stages of craftsmanship run from initial through intermediate to advanced, which I am currently working towards, through to master craftsman which is my ultimate ambition. Each stage requires greater knowledge, skill and attention to detail. Although walling is taught, a lot of the skill comes through experience.

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