2023.10.15 Drystone walling at RAU Cirencester

On 15 October 7 GVCV volunteers worked at dry stone walling at the RAU Cirencester. The brief given was to form a 6 foot wide opening in an existing stone wall and face up the cheeks.  Also repairing the top courses of some sections which had become damaged.

We had expected the warden to be on hand to give detailed instructions, but he did not show so, full of confidence (ha ha), we carried on regardless. We located the wall easily enough with the general directions given to us but our first problem was that we found two locations where a start had been made on forming an opening. We made an executive decision to open up the gap nearest the weather station and to infill the other.

A couple of men building a wall

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We cleared away the stone down to ground level, stacking it for re-use. Then began the process of forming the cheeks, i.e. return faces on the wall. The initial courses were laid using carefully selected stones to form clean right angles at the corners and straight lines between. We then laid successive courses above, tying in to the adjacent existing section of the wall. We built the two outer skins and packed the centre of the wall with small stones and dust as we progressed so as to give the wall mass and stability. Occasional “through” stones linked the outer skins with the centre fill. We used builders lines to ensure our new build continued the line and coursing of the existing wall and steel pins to ensure verticality.

A person in blue pants bending over a stone wall

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A second squad concurrently tackled the infilling at the second location using the same construction techniques.

A group of people outside

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A group of people standing in a field

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A person sitting on the grass

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Morning coffee sitting in the sun.

Unfortunately the whole exercise came to a halt in the afternoon because we ran out of material. We had used everything we found, including stone which we found buried below ground including a convenient concrete slab, but the wall had obviously been “robbed” at some point and much of the stone removed.

We therefore placed a layer of random stone across the top of the fill to stabilise it, cleared all the loose stone into a tidy pile and headed home for a hot shower / bath to ease aching backs.

The weather was kind to us all day, ideal for working. Everyone learned something about drystone walling and we finished up with an end result, which though incomplete, fairly reflected the effort we had put into the task.

A field of flowers and grass

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“lest we forget them” – a carpet of red poppies in an adjacent field.

A group of people standing next to a stone structure

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A tired but happy band at the end of the day

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