|Limestone walls near Foolow, Derbyshire|
The northern uplands of England contain countless miles of drystone walls. They were painstakingly built from locally found stone. Some of them are hundreds of years old - possibly thousands of years old in some locations.
No cement or mortar was used in their construction. Skilled wall builders simply arranged the stones so that they would support one another like pieces in a jigsaw. They endure everything that the weather can throw at them but should a section of wall tumble down, all that has to be done is to repair it by putting the fallen stones back in the gap.
|Millstone grit wall near Malcoff|
I have often walked in moorland areas where the walls became redundant long ago and have not been maintained but there are still many places where the walls remain in very good condition.
Plenty of folk take the walls for granted - they are just there like the hills and the sky - nothing special. But I love the walls. To me they are works of Art. I think of the wall builders - their patience and steadiness in rain or shine - slowly creating extra yards of walling over days, weeks and years. And the walls can be beautiful - weathered and sometimes enhanced by plant life. There's a sense in which each yard of drystone wall tells a different story.
There is beauty and wonder to be found in many human constructions - old castles and churches or country cottages or grand houses but beauty and wonder are also present in the walls that evolved from our northern landscape. Please think of them when you next think of England.
|Drystone walls at Peak Forest|
As I was thinking about this post, I discovered a most relevant song by Keith Scowcroft and Derek Gifford. It is performed here by a folk duo called Fyrish and it's called "The Walling Song". It looks at drystone walls from the point of view of wall builders. I wanted to paste the lyrics into this blogpost for your elucidation but I am afraid I couldn't find a written version on line:-