Dry Stone Wall
Dry Stone Wall
Dry Stone Walls are built
without mortar or cement. It is essential that they have a good
foundation. A shallow trench 4 or 5 feet wide is prepared. Then the
FOOTING stones are laid on a firm sub-soil or rock foundation. These
footings are large and usually square shaped boulders which are placed in
two parallel rows- square ends facing outwards. The space between the two
rows is filled with small irregular stones called HEARTINGS. These bind
together under pressure. Subsequently COURSES of stones are laid, making
sure that each walling stone rests on two stones in the course below. The
two sides taper towards the top and are bound together with long
cross-stones or THROUGHS. Well built walls often had two or more sets of
throughs at different heights above the footing stones. When the wall
reached the required height it was finished off with a final course of
thinner slab-like stones on top of which the CAMS or COPING STONES were
placed. These could be beck cobbles or slate-like stones stacked on edge
and all leaning the same way. The main purpose of the cams was to
discourage sheep from jumping over the wall.
This "show" wall
here at the Museum was built from riven or dressed slate seen on the right
of the gateway and beck cobbles seen to the left of the gateway. This gateway
has one post or STOUP with round holes and the other stoup with square
holes. Poles can be placed across the gap each having a round and square
end so as to prevent cattle from pushing the poles out. Maybe this was
the origin of the saying: a square peg in a round hole!
Two types of HOGG HOLE have been built into the wall, a flat topped one and one with an arched top. Hogg holes allowed Hogs (yearling sheep) to pass freely from one part of the heaf or pasture to another. There are also two types of stile in the wall, a STEP STILE and a SQUEEZE STILE.
At the far end of the wall at ground level is a rabbit SMOOT. Smoots allowed rabbits and hares to pass from the fell into the intakes (fields). Sometimes stone-lined pits were dug below the smoots having a wooden trough, above which was a counter- weighted trap door. The rabbit would fall into the pit and this could be used to supplement a countryman's diet.