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Dry Stone Walling

Dry stone walls are called 'dry' because no cement is used in them. Stones used are made of either Sandstone , Gritstone or Limestone.
First, pegs are lined up in the ground so that the wall will be straight. Then the stonewaller digs away the top soil. This can vary from two to nine inches in depth. A template, or 'A' frame (two pieces of wood and some cross pieces to hold it together, in the shape of an A) is made enabling the waller to keep the shape of his wall true. Depending on the size of the wall you want, the wall should be ....for a 5' 6" to 6 foot high wall, you should start with 29 inches across the bottom, and then work it back up to 13 inches at the tops.

Base or foundation stones are laid. These are large stones which will carry the weight of the wall. Courses of the wall are then built up. Stones are laid with the long side going into the wall. The gap in the middle of the wall is filled with small stones called 'fillings' or 'middles'. Approximately one third of the way up the wall 'throughs' are placed across the wall. These stones run through the wall. The side on which they protrude is the owner's side. Throughs strengthen the wall. The next to the top course is called a Coverhand. This strengthens the wall and keeps the weather out. They are large stones running across the wall. They protrude slightly and prevent sheep from climbing over the wall. The top course of stone are called capstones, capes or topstones. They give added protection to the wall, but are not always used.

A stone wall tapers inwards from the base. This taper is called 'The Batter'. A good waller can build about six or seven running yards of wall a day. This means he moves about six or more tonnes of stone a day.

Advantages of Stone Walls

1. Because of the way they are built, dry stone walls are very strong. Many stone walls are two hundred years old, some older. Most stone walls were built between 1750 and 1850.

2. They not only prevent stock from getting in or out of a field but also provide shelter.

3. Dry stone walls do not require the maintenance of a hedge or fence, and take no nutrients from the soil.

4. Stone walls provide shelter for wild life; mice, lizards, weasels, stoats, and rabbits use them. Many insects thrive in stone walls also. Lichen and mosses grow on them.


1. Stone walls are part of our heritage. They are strong but when they are damaged they deteriorate quickly.

2. Do not climb over stone walls use the stiles provided.

3. If the topstones are removed from a stone wall, water and frost will destroy it. Leave them be.