Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Hot work at Hafod Y Llam

The Dry Stone Walling Association held a competition on Sunday at Hafod Y Llam, Beddgelert. It was hard work just watching! The task was for each entrant to dismantle and then renovate and rebuild a one yard section of dry stone walling to the height of 4ft 6 inches by the end of the day. With no mortar involved, the skill lies in the careful placement of stones and the application of basic principles to produce a structure held together by its own weight. The large footing stones are placed in a trench and great effort is made to keep these to the same height and to make a width of one yard. The second tier, “the first lift,” is of medium stones with smaller stones above in the “second lift.” Stones are set with their length into the wall and “2 on 1” and “1 on 2” similar to bonding on brickwork so that no running or vertical joints form. Wedges hold each stone in place. These are inserted at the stone’s back to prevent movement. This  “doubled” wall has two skins of building stones, with the middle packed with “hearting”, smaller stones carefully placed to prevent movement of the backs of the building stones and hold the wedges ion place. Between the first and second lifts you will normally find “through stones”, long stones stretching right across the wall tying the two skins together.  Walls are wider at the base and taper to 20 inches towards the top. This slope is called the “batter” and the resultant A shape adds stability to the wall. The top of the second lift is levelled off with small stone to provide an even base for the coping, upright stones securely wedged together to give a durable finish to the wall and a difficult surface for sheep to walk on. There were 4 different classes of entry, neighbours worked co-operatively and the judges watched the work all day. Prizes were donated by the Snowdonia Society. This is a very serious business and if you fancy trying it out then try a weekend Basic Introduction or a Taster Day www.dswales.org.uk.


  1. It's good to see that traditional crafts are still going strong.

  2. Never really thought about the work that goes into stone walling. It's amazing when you think of the history behind the stone walls you see and how long they've been there.

    1. It when you see them going up the side of steep hills you think of the hard graft that went into them, and still standing probably centuries on.

  3. This was my grandfather's craft, I'd be very interested in trying it out.