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Region 16 Block of the Month 2021 week 36

Region 16 Block of the Month (or week) 2021

Patterns in the Landscape - Dry-Stone Walls

The makers of these beautiful walls, found widely across upland Britain, are true craftsmen and women. They are an example of an enduring man-made structure from totally natural materials, found locally. In a true dry-stone wall, there is no mortar to bind the stones, just the skill of the expert at choosing and placing the stones so that they fit together. Thankfully, this is a craft which is continuing to attract new recruits and their work is in much demand. The walls create patterns throughout rural areas.

Such walls are a bit like a quilt, two outer layers with filling in the middle. The wall will be wider at the base than the top, for strength. The two outer layers will be built up simultaneously, the gap between them filled with the pieces of stone too small for the outer walls. The outer stone may be roughly trimmed to fit, the sedimentary rocks often used will split along horizontal planes making this less necessary. The experts will be able to select stones that form even layers. At intervals there will be a layer of ‘through’ stones, the only ones which stretch across all three layers, to provide a flattish base for the layers above and to tie the outer walls together. In some areas the through stones are laid so that they protrude a little, forming a ledge where plants may eventually find a toe hold. The top will be finished with a through layer and row of large stones. Throughout the structure, it is the roughness of the rock and the unique shape of each piece which prevents movement and so creates strength.