Dry Stone Walls

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Dinas has miles of beautiful old stone walls and even some relatively new ones. My favourite old walls are up the mountain where they are host to the vegetation that causes their eventual disintegration – and a richness of wildlife.

The Story of the Pennine WallsThe ancient craft of making a dry stone wall has a mystique of its own and I love the way that experts describe the process. Arthur Raistrick‘s slim little book, ‘The Story of the Pennine Walls’ is both scholarly and practical. The author’s knowledge is exhaustive but lightly worn; in twenty-six pages he ranges from  the history of land enclosure in the Pennines to the building of the walls and the lives of the masons. It was published for one shilling in 1946. Here is one of his illustrations.

Building a dry stone wall

If you would like colour and sound, click here for another master of the craft talking about his work.

I am curious to know if the Dinas walls ever looked as beautiful as these. Many of the walls up the mountain look more like heaps of stones, thrown aside when the fields were cleared, rather than a wall constructed by a mason. Is that what plant life can do to the structure or was the land too poor to warrant hiring a specialist?

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About bookvolunteer

I'm passionate about books, about Oxfam and about making the world a better place. When I'm not filling the shelves in Oxfam Wilmslow, I might be found reading the books I've bought in the beautiful surroundings of North Pembrokeshire.
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2 Responses to Dry Stone Walls

  1. calmgrove says:

    Some walls around us in the Preselis may just have been field boundaries but most have been built on banks suggesting they were in the past really meant to keep livestock in.

    Now many have been breached by sheep, which are (mostly) kept in by wire or electric fences or blackthorn and gorse hedges. Each wall has I think to be individually evaluated for its history and antiquity — an archaeologist friend has estimated some field boundaries to the west of Maenclochog to be Bronze Age.

  2. Thanks for helping to answer my question. I shall view these walls in a different light now and try to find out more. The Pennine walls are mostly a mere 200 or so years old.

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