Category Archives: dry stone walling

No more mountain of stone

Written by stephen gale

We have just about finished the dry stone walls we started earlier in the summer.  Just as well since we seemed to have used up all of the stone that we had left over.  It is difficult to believe that the huge mountain of stone that was left over from the old barn and outbuildings has now been moved and forms the new dry stone walls.  We moved all of the stone by hand with the aid of an old dumper.  We just kept chipping away at it and eventually it was all gone.

We are now left with a new sheep pen (for housing the dumper and other stuff for now) and a new dry stone wall along the top field.  Give it a year and it will have all blended in.

This used to be a mountain of stone, but now we just have the few odd shaped stones on the left. Goodness knows what we will do with them, but we have used an angle grinder to cut some of them into more usable pieces. Difficult to believe that this mountain of stone was all moved by hand and transported in an old dumper!

This used to be a mountain of stone, but now we just have the few odd shaped stones on the left. Goodness knows what we will do with them, but we have used an angle grinder to cut some of them into more usable pieces. Difficult to believe that this mountain of stone was all moved by hand and transported in an old dumper!

We are still "raiding" this pile of stone left over from the renovation to rebuild and repair different bits of our dry stone walls.

Here’s the pile of stone before we started building the last of the dry stone walls.

Well, we didn't quite move ALL the stones by hand.  Some of them were just too big to lift by hand!

Well, we didn’t quite move ALL the stones by hand. Some of them were just too big to lift by hand!

Wall in the top field

Written by stephen gale

Well, we are almost there.  Just as well since our mountain of stone has almost all gone.  Amazing to think that all of this stone has been moved by hand with just the aid of our old dumper.  It has been a little slow on occasion, but we got there in the end.

A little while ago we were wondering what we were going to do with the pile of stone from the old barn.  Now, it has almost all gone.

A little while ago we were wondering what we were going to do with the pile of stone from the old barn. Now, it has almost all gone.

There was a fair mixture of stone in this pile.  To be fair, most of it was pretty good walling stone so it didn't take long to build some new stone walls in the top field.

There was a fair mixture of stone in this pile. To be fair, most of it was pretty good walling stone so it didn’t take long to build some new stone walls in the top field.

We started building a sheep pen around the pile of stones - partly to hide it and partly to use up the stone.  It soon became obvious that we had to think of something else to do with the stone.

We started building a sheep pen around the pile of stones – partly to hide it and partly to use up the stone. It soon became obvious that we had to think of something else to do with the stone.

Over the last few weeks we have made good progress on the remaining dry stone walls.  We haven't got much to do now.  Which is just as well, since there isn't much of our mountain of stone left!

Over the last few weeks we have made good progress on the remaining dry stone walls. We haven’t got much to do now. Which is just as well, since there isn’t much of our mountain of stone left!

Once we turn the corner, this wall in the top field will join up with the old wall in the bottom field.  Then all of our stone will have been used up.  Well, at least that is the plan!

Once we turn the corner, this wall in the top field will join up with the old wall in the bottom field. Then all of our stone will have been used up. Well, at least that is the plan!

New wall in the top field

Written by stephen gale

There was always a wall here, but in days gone by I think the wall collapsed and what is left is hidden under the grass in the bottom field.  So now is our opportunity to re-build, but this time not to have it too close to the edge of the escarpment.  It is the same height as the back wall (and the sheep pen) in the top field.  It will come around to the right of the large oak tree and then join up with the existing wall in the bottom field.  This will then enclose the bottom field while not obscuring the views from the house.

All of the stone has been moved by hand with the aid of our old dumper.  Compared to some of the other walling we have done, this has been quite a quick job – mainly due to much better building stone.

We have always dug all of the footings for our dry stone walls by hand - not this time!  We just happened to have access to a machine (and a man who knows how to drive it).  It only took a couple of hours to do what might have taken a couple of days by hand.  We used our old trusty dumper to move the soil elsewhere.  It is probably a good 30-40m run.

We have always dug all of the footings for our dry stone walls by hand – not this time! We just happened to have access to a machine (and a man who knows how to drive it). It only took a couple of hours to do what might have taken a couple of days by hand. We used our old trusty dumper to move the soil elsewhere. It is probably a good 30-40m run.

We are using our old dumper to move this stone from the mountain to the other end of the field.  The stone is pretty reasonable walling stone (even if some of it is a little big!), so the wall goes up pretty quickly.

We are using our old dumper to move this stone from the mountain to the other end of the field. The stone is pretty reasonable walling stone (even if some of it is a little big!), so the wall goes up pretty quickly.

When we had the digger here we used it to lift some of the bigger stones into the dumper.  I then dumped these along the wall to go into the foundations of the wall.  Although many of them were too heavy to lift, I can just about roll them into position.  Zep is lying in the grass by the red trug in the background.

When we had the digger here we used it to lift some of the bigger stones into the dumper. I then dumped these along the wall to go into the foundations of the wall. Although many of them were too heavy to lift, I can just about roll them into position. Zep is lying in the grass by the red trug in the background.

This is the view from the other side of the wall looking up from the bottom field.  It doesn't look too bad, although it does feel bigger and taller when viewed from this side.

This is the view from the other side of the wall looking up from the bottom field. It doesn’t look too bad, although it does feel bigger and taller when viewed from this side.

Almost there! Which is just as well since we don't seem to have much stone left!  It is amazing to think that most of this wall used to the old barn.

Almost there! Which is just as well since we don’t seem to have much stone left! It is amazing to think that most of this wall used to the old barn.

Sheep pen in the top field

Written by stephen gale

In order to use up some of the left over stone, we decided to build a “sheep pen” in the top field to house our dumper and other bits and pieces.  Part of these walls have been built through the mountain of stone by building the wall a section at a time – we have been moving the stone from in front of us to build the wall.  This in turn allows us to dig the footings for the next section and the process starts all over again.  Laborious, but it works!

It was a bit daunting when we started this job, but at least the stones didn't have to be moved far!

It was a bit daunting when we started this job, but at least the stones didn’t have to be moved far!

We came out about 4m from the existing wall (and at the same height).  Now it is time to turn the corner!  We built this wall about 1.5m at a time - each time digging the footings by hand and then taking the stones from in front of us to build this wall.  This way we managed to build the wall "through" the mountain of stone.

We came out about 4m from the existing wall (and at the same height). Now it is time to turn the corner! We built this wall about 1.5m at a time – each time digging the footings by hand and then taking the stones from in front of us to build this wall. This way we managed to build the wall “through” the mountain of stone.

The foundations of the wall are built on top of the subsoil - we dig a trench to remove all of the turf and top soil. This means that the foundations are out of sight - this is a good place to loose some of the old bits of concrete block and old bricks.  It provides a good solid base without using up good stone.  The footings are all dug by hand.

The foundations of the wall are built on top of the subsoil – we dig a trench to remove all of the turf and top soil. This means that the foundations are out of sight – this is a good place to loose some of the old bits of concrete block and old bricks. It provides a good solid base without using up good stone. The footings are all dug by hand.

 

The buckets are full of smaller stones that are used to "pack out" the middle of the wall.  You'll be amazed at how much stone can be used up doing this and how stable the smaller stones make the whole structure.  While I get to put the bigger stones in place, Jo gets to work fill the centre of the wall behind me.

The buckets are full of smaller stones that are used to “pack out” the middle of the wall. You’ll be amazed at how much stone can be used up doing this and how stable the smaller stones make the whole structure. While I get to put the bigger stones in place, Jo gets to work fill the centre of the wall behind me.

We progressively worked our way building through the mountain of stone.  You can see where the "mountain" used to be because there was no grass under the mountain.  We are now using some orange string to provide a guide for the top of the wall.  Our aim is to build this wall to the same height as the old wall behind.

We progressively worked our way building through the mountain of stone. You can see where the “mountain” used to be because there was no grass under the mountain. We are now using some orange string to provide a guide for the top of the wall. Our aim is to build this wall to the same height as the old wall behind.

We are going to stop building the sheep pen and turn our attention to building the wall along the top edge of the field.  If we have any stone left over, we may come back here and build out the pen a little more.  But for now, we are done here.  You can just see the top of the stone pile behind the wall.

We are going to stop building the sheep pen and turn our attention to building the wall along the top edge of the field. If we have any stone left over, we may come back here and build out the pen a little more. But for now, we are done here. You can just see the top of the stone pile behind the wall.

More dry stone walling

Written by stephen gale

We had a real mountain of stone left over when we demolished the old barn.  It was of little use when re-building the extension, but since it had been here for the last 200-300 years, we didn’t really want to get rid of it.  So the big question is what do you do with around 250 tons of old stone?

We are still "raiding" this pile of stone left over from the renovation to rebuild and repair different bits of our dry stone walls.

We are still “raiding” this pile of stone left over from the renovation to rebuild and repair different bits of our dry stone walls.

Our first call was to build a “sheep pen” around the mountain of stone.  This would give us somewhere to park various bits of machinery where it was out of site.  In the short term, it would also be a good spot to store horse manure/compost.  And who knows, eventually even some sheep!

The next step was to re-build the wall in the top field along the boundary with the lower field.  There had been a wall here previously, but I suspect that it was built a little too close to the edge of the escarpment and it just end up as a pile of stones along the edge of the bottom field.  This old wall can still be seen in places. The new wall is just a little back from the edge, so hopefully the same fate will not await our new wall.

I reckon by the time that we have finished this wall that most of the mountain of stone will have disappeared (or rather, been repurposed!).

Wall in the bottom field

Written by admin

It needs some coping stones, but the wall in the bottom field is done. We have been working on it for the past couple of weeks.  We have been using the opportunity to use up some of the stone left over from the renovation and although we have used 4-5 dumpers worth of stone, there still seems to be a lot of stone still left.

We aren’t sure what we are going to with this area, but now that it has been tidied up, it is a lot more accessible. The loose stones need sorting out, but we can’t make up our minds about whether we should do this by hand or hire a machine.  The ground is still too wet to get a machine in here.

You can see where we have used new stone from our pile, but give it 12-18 months and it will looks as if this wall will have been here for years.  We are constantly amazed as we look back at other bits of wall that we have repaired about how quickly they seem to age (just like me).

Just needs a bit of clearing up and the ground needs a bit of levelling, but when we first bought the property this was completely overgrown.

Just needs a bit of clearing up and the ground needs a bit of levelling, but when we first bought the property this was completely overgrown.

Well, almost done.  Just needed some coping stones along the top.

Well, almost done. Just needed some coping stones along the top.

We are still "raiding" this pile of stone left over from the renovation to rebuild and repair different bits of our dry stone walls.

We are still “raiding” this pile of stone left over from the renovation to rebuild and repair different bits of our dry stone walls.

Some of the bigger pieces here are going to require a machine to lift them.

Some of the bigger pieces here are going to require a machine to lift them.

It’s been a while….

Written by admin

Well, it has been a while since we have posted on the blog.  It doesn’t mean that we haven’t been busy, in fact, quite the opposite.  I’ll try and post some more updates this week.

The rain has eased up for the past week or so and the fields have started to dry out a bit.  This has meant that we have been able to restart working in the bottom field repairing the last of the dry stone walls.  We had to clear a reasonable amount of undergrowth before we could get to this area.  When we first bought the property, you couldn’t get in here at all.

We had to take a 3-4 medium sized trees to get access to this area, but it looks a lot better now that the area has been cleared.  It is amazing how many logs that we seem to get from so few trees.  They’ll need to dry out over the summer before we will be able to use them on the log stoves.  The main issue now is where to store them.

We believe that this is the boundary wall between the old quarry that was in the bottom field and Hagg Wood.  According to the old maps, this quarry was no longer used from about 1899.  Most of the stone for the wall was under the piles of leafs.

We believe that this is the boundary wall between the old quarry that was in the bottom field and Hagg Wood. According to the old maps, this quarry was no longer used from about 1899. Most of the stone for the wall was under the piles of leafs.

The area to the left of the wall was a small quarry in the mid 1800's.  I suspect that much of the stone that was used to build the house came from here.  A number of the guys in the local pub remember playing in the quarry as kids.  I believe that it was filled in during the 1960's when a modern property was built next door and the quarry was used for landfill.

The area to the left of the wall was a small quarry in the mid 1800’s. I suspect that much of the stone that was used to build the house came from here. A number of the guys in the local pub remember playing in the quarry as kids. I believe that it was filled in during the 1960’s when a modern property was built next door and the quarry was used for landfill.

 

Rather than starting the wall from scratch we have taken it back down to where we could find the foundation stones.  It makes repairing the wall a lot quicker!

Rather than starting the wall from scratch we have taken it back down to where we could find the foundation stones. It makes repairing the wall a lot quicker!

The dumper holds about 3/4 ton and this was just about on it's limit (considering that the brakes aren't all that good!).  There is probably amount the same amount again to be collected.  It'll take about a year before these are dry enough to burn, but they should be ready for next Winter.

The dumper holds about 3/4 ton and this was just about on it’s limit (considering that the brakes aren’t all that good!). There is probably amount the same amount again to be collected. It’ll take about a year before these are dry enough to burn, but they should be ready for next Winter.

Odd jobs – 2

Written by stephen gale

We rebuilt the dry stone wall in the bottom field a few weeks ago, but now that we have a dumper we can sort out the coping stones.  The coping stones have been reclaimed from the huge pile of stone that was left over from demolishing the old barn.

We built this wall in the bottom field a few weeks ago, but waited until we had our new dumper before putting the coping stones on.  Much of the coping stones came from the huge pile of stone that we had left over from demolishing the barn.

We built this wall in the bottom field a few weeks ago, but waited until we had our new dumper before putting the coping stones on. Much of the coping stones came from the huge pile of stone that we had left over from demolishing the barn.

We used a line to get the top  of the wall straight and level.  It is amazing how this simple approach produces a very straight line.  The wall is made up of all sorts of different stone (and the occasionally brick!) from around the property.  If nothing else, the wall is a good way of getting rid of a lot of the surplus stone.

We used a line to get the top of the wall straight and level. It is amazing how this simple approach produces a very straight line. The wall is made up of all sorts of different stone (and the occasionally brick!) from around the property. If nothing else, the wall is a good way of getting rid of a lot of the surplus stone.

Odd jobs

Written by stephen gale

Over the past couple of months, we have been doing odd jobs around the place.  We concentrated on getting the work done rather than keeping the blog up to date, so here’s a quick round up……

We finished the dry stone wall along the orchard and top field last month and had quite a bit of stone left over.  With the arrival of our new dumper (well, new to us), we were in a position to move the stone out of the way into the bottom field.  This means that in time we should be able to mow the grass up to the new wall.  All in all, it took about a dozen trips in the dumper.

There was a lot of odd (and orrible) stone left over when building the dry stone wall - rounded lumps of stuff that weren't of any use in a wall.  All of this has now been moved and the grass is starting to grow over the bare batches.  If we had had a bit more rain, I think this would look a lot better, but time will tell.

There was a lot of odd (and orrible) stone left over when building the dry stone wall – rounded lumps of stuff that weren’t of any use in a wall. All of this has now been moved and the grass is starting to grow over the bare batches. If we had had a bit more rain, I think this would look a lot better, but time will tell.

We have a bit of land in the bottom field under the trees where we have been dumping the left over stone from the top field.  There must have been a dozen or so dumper worths here.

We have a bit of land in the bottom field under the trees where we have been dumping the left over stone from the top field. There must have been a dozen or so dumper worths here.

 

Some of this stone will be used for building a new wall here, but some of it is just junk.  Unfortunately, the incinerator got a bit too close to the dumper.  Ho hum.

Some of this stone will be used for building a new wall here, but some of it is just junk. Unfortunately, the incinerator got a bit too close to the dumper. Ho hum.

 

Finishing the wall in the bottom field

Written by stephen gale

We managed to get half a day today once the rain stopped to finish off the wall in the bottom field.  We started on the wall on the right hand side of the gate a couple of weeks ago.  There wasn’t a wall here previously, just a gate post.  We have used all sorts of odd stone from around the property to build up this wall.  In fact, it has been a good way of getting rid of quite a lot of stone.  Once it all weathers in, it will look as if it has been there forever.

The rain stopped this afternoon and this gave us enough time to finish off the wall that we started on a couple of weeks ago.  We just need to find some coping stones now.

The rain stopped this afternoon and this gave us enough time to finish off the wall that we started on a couple of weeks ago. We just need to find some coping stones now.

Wall in the bottom field

We used a line to get the top  of the wall straight and level.  It is amazing how this simple approach produces a very straight line.  The wall is made up of all sorts of different stone (and the occasionally brick!) from around the property.  If nothing else, the wall is a good way of getting rid of a lot of the surplus stone.

We used a line to get the top of the wall straight and level. It is amazing how this simple approach produces a very straight line. The wall is made up of all sorts of different stone (and the occasionally brick!) from around the property. If nothing else, the wall is a good way of getting rid of a lot of the surplus stone.