Friday, 30 December 2011

Strange Lump of Rock

This strange looking lump of rock was found beside pebbles on the riverside. Does anyone know what it can be? It is about 10 cms. across.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Summer Time in Mid-Winter

It is refreshing at this time of year in Scotland to remember what flowers look like! This is a photo of a limestone wall in Switzerland sent by Gerhard Stoll. On the 30th Dec. a strange rock , a little problem.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

A Merry Christmas

Many thanks to the great guy who built this tree and to the Canadian winter for helping to decorate it.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Sarcophagus for a Famous Dog.

This most unusual burial place was built mainly by Evan Oxland and Akira Inman to commemorate a Canadian National champion South African Ridgeback. The structure is roughly in the shape of a kennel with the unusual addition of a ridge of small stone down the centre of the roof. The dog was buried below the large flat rock.
The entry for 22nd December is from the garden of Scott George.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Round Rocks

This wall was built by Scott George and Dan Pearl. It shows great skill to produce such a fine job from what must have been very difficult rocks to work with. They have carefully selected larger rocks to make a really strong corner. This photo was shown recently on website. Well worth a visit to find out what is happening in North America.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Another single rock.

This end of a wall breaks some of the traditional rules. Here I stood a large rock on top of a large flat base. This worked only because the base of the upright was large enough not to move. However it did have a curved bottom which required small wedges at the front edge. These had to be carefully chosen to ensure that they would not be crushed by the weight above them.
Entry on 6th December shows a wallend on the Isle of Skye.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Wall ends

There are many ways to build a cheek end of a wall. Normally in the UK there is an upright post for a gate , which means that the stonework has to be perpendicular. A single large rock with at least one third of it underground is a very satisfying way to achieve this. This example is in a field close to Auchterarder in Perthshire shows how to deal with a fence which does not continue from the wallend.
 The next few entries will show other ways of finishing a wall.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Welsh Clapper Bridge

Sean Adcock sent me these photos of an old  clapper bridge in  Cwm Llan Nant, Gwnyant. Sean's  wife Brenda is testing it. The health and safety rules we have now would surely prevent this type of build. Yet I doubt whether anyone has ever fallen off.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Hollow and the Hump.

Last year I built a wall close to home at Dolleriemuir. With the left over stone this year with help from John Shaw-Rimmington we created a hollow and a hump for the children to play on and in.. They seem to love it. I like it because it combines function with John's attractive design.
The entry on 19th November is from Slovenia.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Venus Gate

Thsi Venus gate was created at the entrance to the amphitheatre. Very cleverly a structure was built on a plinth behing the portal. This looked as though the rocks in the gap had been moved outside. See more from the four day event on 11th November.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Kaleidoscope in Stone.

This amazing concept was designed and built by Star Rock Builder Thea Alvin at the DSWAC festival. Through the aperture one could get a great view of the Venus gate built at the same time. Thanks to Jason Hoffman for the photo.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

An Amphitheatre!

I asked John Shaw-Rimmington what was planned for the 2011 Festival.. A Venus-gate and an Amphitheatre he commented casually. I knew what one was but had no idea about the other. Here  is the theatre after only four days . I couldn't believe how beautiful it was and how quickly it was accomplished. We sat, about 100 of us, listening to wonderful magic in the warm tree shadow slanting evening sunshine. The whole area was transformed beyond recognition. So much more was going on at  the same time. See the next few entries for the Venus-gate the plinth, the stone balancing, the kaleidoscope etc. Wowee. I am so glad that I was there. Oh I forgot to mention the marvelous food. and beer provided by guess who, Rock Hammer.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Helix in Canada

John Shaw-Rimmington has organised the construction of this amazing structure that he named the Rubble Helix. Although dry stone, it is sensibly sitting on a floating bed of concrete. I remember seeing this idea tried out in dominoes in John's kitchen. I was fairly sure it was impossible on a large scale. Happily I have been proved wrong.
From large to small see the entry on 28th October.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Ingliston Bridge

This bridge was built along with Irwin Campbell and his DSWA West of Scotland Branch.  It was part of a Scottish Garden Fair and sadly was only there for a few days.  On 16th September you can see me finishing off a wall round a field (a year and a half of work).

Friday, 26 August 2011

Tigh na Cailleach Rebuilt

Here it is the house rebuilt for the wee people of Glen Lyon. Using techniques which I learned in Slovenia,(thanks to the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust) we built a double skin wall with corbelling at the top to support a 300 year old chunk of oak which had a slope of about 5cms from front to back to shed water. On top of that we laid flat rocks then covered the whole roof with peaty turf which is quite acidic and will help to preserve the wood. The helpers were Alex and Ashley Dudley Smith who provided the food, Tom and Pauline Beel who brought the wood, and Mel O'Flynn who took some great photos. All carted rocks from the burn up to the site off and on for two days.
Just as we had laid the last turf in walked Sharon MacLeod, a Canadian living in Boston who is an expert in Celtic literature and traditions. She  sang a very moving and beautiful song of welcome in Gaelic. This was an amazing coincidence, a happening from the other side of the world from a lady who knew of the stones but had never seen them before. We all went home feeling tired and very happy.
Thanks also to Jamie Grant for some of these photos.
Only afterwards did we notice the face on the guardian rock in the doorway.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Tigh na Cailleach

Here is how the house of the wee stone  people of Glen Lyon looked before 6 caring folk made there way up to the remote site to repair it. We had to deal with heavy rain , poor tracks and hoards of midges but we managed and thoroughly enjoyed our trip. We finished the job tired but happy. No one knows when the house was built but we do know that we are helping to continue a tradition which has been maintained for thousands of years.The stone family, ranging in height from the mother ( Cailleach ) around 45 cms high to her youngest child about 10 cms, is taken out in the Spring and returned to their shelter in the Autumn.  This helps to ensure that the crops will grow again successfully the following year.
The next entry on 26th August shows the result of the repair and tells of a visitor out of the intermittent blue who knew about and cared about these remote stones from the other side of the world.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Another fine wall by Andy Loudon

This wall with the inset has the feeling for me of an modern artist's painting.
The post tomorrow is a problem.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Good way to use a large rock!

A family picnic just before the work started.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Castle in the Rocks

This Slovenian amazing castle in the rocks, was occupied for many years by a brigand who seemed to be unassailable. Although under siege for over a year he had 13 kilometers of passages to retreat into and also access to open country for fresh food unknown to the attackers. He was finally killed when one of his men betrayed him . He went each morning at the same time to his toilet in an overhang and he was caught in the act by well directed cannon fire!

The next entry explains the problem of drinking water in a limestone area. 20:06:11

Sunday, 12 June 2011

North American Repair

This fine example of Deeside walling was substantially done by a group of wallers from Canada and the USA who were visiting the Royal estate at Balmoral. You can see what they were faced with when they arrived on site.
The entry on 16th June tells the story of an unusual Castle in Slovenia.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Walling in Slovenia

One feature of the dry walls in the Kras region was that there was almost no batter. For those of us brought up in the British tradition this is quite unusual but not unique. In Yorkshire I have seen  two metre high walls built by monks in the 15th century which had no batter. It would seem that the apparent requirment for the slope depends on the purpose of the wall. When there are no animals attempting to climb over there seems to be no need for batter.
The next post shows work done on the Balmoral estate by Canadian wallers.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

The Smiling Hiska

I was involved in the almost total rebuild of this 100 year old shepherds hut. After the completion one of the builders Jelena inscribed our names on a rock close to the entrance. Sadly she left out her own despite making a major contribution to the work. All the huts had a name and  this one was called the Smiling Hiska.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Dry Stone Hut in Slovenia

The largest hut I visited while in Slovenia was in the garden of master builder Mitja. I liked this because of the flat roof and the domed interior. Mitja along with his father Adolf had constructed many fine walls with limestone. I joined a group of students walling on the property and we discovered how tricky the stone was to work with. Around 12 people could comfortably shelter in here.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

A Fine Arch

This delightful arch was built recently by Yorkshire waller Tracey Blackwell. It was designed as a test piece and I wish her every success in the assessment of the piece. Have a look at this video of the removal of the support for the arch

11th May shows a Scottish blackhouse built in Canada.

Saturday, 30 April 2011


This wall which is well over 150 years old is found on the old track from Crieff to Perth. The style is not typical of walls built since Victorian times in this part of Scotland. The local rock is large basaltic chunks which lend themselves to what we call Singling Dyke. Most stones are large enough to go right through the wall and tend to be built standing up rather than laid flat as is normal in a Double dyke.
See a monster on the 3rd of may!

Monday, 18 April 2011

Waller enjoying life

This photo of John Shaw-Rimmington shows him in his element. Dry stone walling is a wonderful job with each day giving the sense of having achieved something which makes the world a better place. It is also a profession which provides a challenge mentally and phsically. OK there are times when it is cold or wet but these are far outweighed by the warm lovely days often spent in outstanding places. For information about his activities in Canada go to
The entry on 22nd April is a mysterious rock which was built into a wall.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Minature Wall

Recently I attended a dinner which was designed as a thank you to myself and Presedent Ian Dewar, who were both founder members of our local DSWA branch. We were  presented with minature walls. The one shown here was built by Joyce Anderson. What a brilliant thing to have. To give an idea of scale the wall is 25cm long (10 inches).
The post on 18th April is a testament to dry stone walling.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Time for Coffee

Now I love my job. But just occasionally when I get to work and look around I am thankful to be self employed. It is time for coffee and a bacon roll beside a warm fire. I shall make up for it in the summer.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Curved Wall by Chris Barclay

This curve beside a greenhouse is part of a garden being landscaped by Christopher William Barclay. A shape like this is quite tricky to achieve as much of it has to be done by eye. Using strings tends to result in angles appearing instead of a smooth surface.
Next entry shows the hardship which workers sometimes have to endure  working further North in Canada.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Kissing gates

The top picture was sent to me by Sean Adcock it shows a brilliant use of Welsh slate to create a Kissing gate.The second photo is another gate
close to my home town, a  Victorian Kissing gate. It must be quite a long time since it was used and sadly most of  the stone from the original adjoining walls has been removed. However there is a crop of modern houses nearby and some of them have very attractive rockeries. Probably where some of the rocks went. Recycling is much preferable to dumping.
The entry on 28th April is a curved wall built by Chris Barclay.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Stone Money

Rai stones are large circular stone disks (coins if you like) carved out of limestone with a large hole in the middle they may weigh up to several tons. They were used by Yap islanders in Micronesia for social transactions such as marriage, inheritance, political deals, sign of an alliance, ransom of the battle dead or just in exchange for food. The value of the stone was based not just on their size and craftsmanship but also on their history. On one occasion a stone, being transported by canoe, was dropped into the sea it was never recovered but everyone assumed that it was still there so it continued to be circulated. With the introduction of Iron tools in the 19th century a form of inflation set in and the stones became of less value. The attached images are open source from Wikipedia so you can find more information there. Thanks to Chris Haddow for bringing these very interesting items to my attention.

The entry on 25th March is a kissing gate.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

More from Danny Woodward

This photo shows another example of the way Danny combines steps with walls using a mixture of coursing and strong uprights. I really like this type of landscaping and look forward to seeing the same area later when the planting is complete. For molre information about Danny's work contact him on 
The entry on18th March shows amazing "coins" .

Sunday, 13 March 2011

An old problem with trees

I have recently had to do a repair on a farm near home. A couple of hundred years ago a line of trees were planted, close to, but at the time seemingly far enough away from the wall not to do any damage. Nowadays that estates do not want to chop down beautiful mature trees I often have to deal with the long term result. This involves bridging large roots and sometimes putting in a lintel to give the tree freedom to grow for another fifty years or so.
The entry on 17th March will be another example from the work of Danny Woodward.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Danny Woodward

This is a fine example of the effect that Danny Woodward can achieve with his dry stone work. I have the  feeling looking at this photo that the steps are flowing peacefully from the walls.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Another Australian Wall

This photo of a cleverly built wall was sent to me by Duncan Haddow . He saw it when visiting a park in  Queensland. This is well done with what looks like very irregular blocks of rock. Takes considerable skill to end up with a neat wallend and a flat top using this type of material.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Walls in Australia.

This wall was photographed by my son Duncan. He saw it in the Botanical Gardens in Sydney. I know that Geoff Duggan, a mastercraftsman with the Dry Stone Walling Association of GB,  works there and assume that this shows his influence.
More walls from Australia on 7th March.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Retaining wall by Russ Beardsley

Here is a fine example of a retaining wall. Although not yet complete with coping rocks it does show how the back should be filled with hard material which will allow adequate drainage. In addition the wallend is constructed in traditional style. For more of his work go to 

On the 1st of March I am posting a very unusual picture.