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Dry Stone Walls

1113 of 1170 nominations


Dry Stone Walls

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Dry Stone Walls

An enduring feature of the English landscape, dry stone walls are common field boundaries across the rocky upland regions – the Lake District, the Pennines, the south-west and the north-east. People have been building these walls for more than 2,000 years, yet most of those we see today are medieval in origin. They were built to enclose common land, once shared by a whole village, for sheep and cattle farming.

It takes great skill to build a dry stone wall, for it is held up not by mortar but by the weight of each stone, carefully placed to fit like a piece in a jigsaw. The largest stones are at the base, and the wall gradually narrows towards the top, where there is a row of upright capstones. Building is hard work, for a tonne of rock must be carried for each metre of wall. Yet the effort is well worth it because a dry stone wall, unlike a hedgerow or wire fence, lasts for centuries with little maintenance. Dry stone walls also give beauty and character to our countryside, while preventing soil erosion and providing habitats for small mammals, birds, reptiles and insects.

Image: Topfoto.co.uk


Your comments

They've stood the test of time, and the british weather, more a northern icon, but worth nominating.

Ian Scott

Dry-stone walls are emblems of our beautiful countryside, our heritage, and our commitment to tradition. They are beautiful. They make me feel proud to be part of this land.
Sophie Abbott

Living in the bright light of Australia, dry stone walls are a strong English icon for me. They're as grey as England is so often painted here, but that superficial brush-off misses the acid lime and yellow and slippery silver of dry stone wall lichens. Dry stone walls don't square-off sections in hard barbed-wire lines; they sketch the landscape - drawing the lines of Yorkshire escarpments; shaping round Lakeland crags; and curving into sheepfolds. They're organic, recycled, and hand-made, with no preservatives, additives or artificial colouring. Not a grey icon for a grey country, but a shapely symbol of its subtleties.
Sarah Moor

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I nominate the English weather.