Yorkshire has more miles of Dry Stone Wall than any other county and these walls are an outstanding feature of the Dales. It is quite a craft to build such a wall and the techniques have been passed down for generations. This is just a superficial guide to whet your dry stone appetite.
The way dry stone walling works is to make the weight of the outside lean inward to the core structure of the wall, each stone is carefully selected jig-saw like to create a near flush contact area between each stone to prevent slipping or wobble. Walls are usually 5-7 feet high and traditional measures are used such as a Rood (quarter of an acre or 40 perches) which equals a furlongs times a rod which is itself a quarter of a chain or 22 yards. (There will be a test at the end).
Gather and sort the stone by size in a type that complements and harmonises with the landscape such as limestone, grit stone or sandstone. Make foundations level and about a yard wide. Large stones go at the bottom butting against each other. All other stones must make contact with others and have the weight back into the wall and the face facing (Mmmm). With each layer of stone fill in void spaces with smaller stones to ‘bind’ the wall. The wall should taper like a flat topped ‘ A’, this slope is called the batter. ‘Throughs’ are the large heavy stones laid across the wall at intervals for extra strength. Topping stones as the name suggests are the icing on the cake also called coping, cap or comb stones. Cheeks or Heads are the end stones. A Cripple hole is a rectangular opening at the base of a wall built to permit the passage of sheep. Also known as a hogg hole, lonky or lunky hole, sheep run, sheep smoose, smout hole, thawl or thirl hole. Smoot hole is to allow Rabbits and Hare to move through or even small streams.
Dry stone walls and traditional Yorkshire Dales meadows
The Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain is registered as a charity and offers training and has several branches in Yorkshire.
The Yorkshire Dry Stone Walling Guild recently featured an arch bridge and an article from the Yorkshire Post on their web site.
Photo credit middle the wet or snowy ‘dry stone wall by lynnepet’ CC BY-NC-ND 2.0