Building without mortar is a skill learned by earliest humans: for shelter; as burial mounds; as enclosures for animals or as spiritual spaces. Many structures have lasted thousands of years, solidly defying gravity.
Dry stone structures have no mortar to crack or degrade, and use only the weight of the materials to remain held together.
Often walls are built with the stones lying close by or in shallow quarry outcrops. There’s only natural material used to build a wall – the ultimate sustainable, recyclable structure.
Walls began to really dominate some rural landscapes in Britain by the time of the enclosures. With farming mechanisation, the craftsman labourers steadily disappeared from our hedgerows, fields and boundaries.
The art is not yet dead. Skilled wallers remain, steadily helping to maintain and improve the structure of our upland landscape. With around 180,000 miles of drystone wall in Britain (and more than half in need of repair) there’s more than enough work for anyone willing to bend their back.