Yesterday I was helping my mate David to rebuild a section of our garden dry-stone wall that had collapsed. On Friday last I cut back the hedge, shifted a load of compost that was in the way and laid out the wallstones away from the base of the wall to make some room to work. This is what it looked like at that stage.
I kept thinking of “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost: “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall”. It was probably the hedge swaying about that finished the wall off, but it was a pretty badly built wall, and it was very tricky knowing how far back to pull it down to start again. You need to get to some sound wall, trouble was none of the standing wall was brilliant, but I suppose it’s probably been standing over 100 years.
Once David arrived, we took it back a bit further, and then managed to install some large stones as footings (foundations) to carry the weight. The foundations have to be quite a bit broader than the top of the wall as it leans in, or “batters” as we say round here, towards the top.
We kept a bit of the inside leaf up, as there is a hedge on our side of the wall (I know, “Why do you need a wall AND a hedge?”, just gives us a bit more privacy really.)
Then it started going up. David was doing the main graft with me just helping out a bit.
You need to get the big stuff in the bottom, or it will not only be heavy to lift onto the upper courses, but also will alter the balance of the whole wall and potentially bring it down again. The plastic trugs hold the heartings or fillings. These are small rubbly stones used to fill up the gaps between the two leaves of the wall. You can make out David’s lime band that gives him a reference line with the existing wall, so that it all lines through.
Up it went:
Warm work, hat off now. It was a very cold start – frosty, but shifting stones around soon warms you up.
We are heading towards getting these topstuns on the top of the wall:
Quite a way to go, but progressing:
More heartings going in. The bending down gets less at this stage.
In the picture above you can see three elements of a dry stone wall. The two leaves of the wall, these are like two independent skins, they are locked together by throughs which span both leaves. The stone with the hammer on it is a through. You can also see the heartings in the foreground that fill the space between the two leaves.
Time for lunch (another through in right foreground), looking good:
Notice how the stones overlap joints between the stones below. This adds strength. If the joints are above each other they are straight joints which make the wall weak, they are called swords in France!
Just about ready for the topstones now. Notice how the courses are laid progressively closer in to achieve a narrowing towards the top.
Good job, well done, with rubbish materials (we had to reject a few bits of brick, concrete from bucket bottoms and pottery that were all in there before).
Today in the woods was pretty Spring-like after another bitter frost -4, blimey, it’s supposed to be March for Goodness sake!
I ate in the Strid cafeteria for the first time this year, it was good to feel the sun on my back:
I do think the new white tarp. is a great improvement, not very green, but, hey! I can see what I’m doing and the photos no longer look like scenes from a B horror movie with that green tinge.