Importance of Dry stone Walling in an Historical Context

Drystone walling is one of the oldest crafts of building which uses complementary interlocking stones to create the wall without any mortar in between. As stones were the primary building material that was known to man, the constructions of drystone walls can be dated even back to the Neolithic periods. The great Stonehenge, Peruvian temple are few of the famous examples of dry stone walling.

Reasons for Stone Walls Building

Dry stone walls were built by the early dwellers to mark the boundaries of their lands. Another reason for building dry stones was to deter any cattle that tried to escape from the owner or to deter wild animals from carrying away cattle or other pets. In the old days, stone was aplenty and so was labor so it makes perfect sense that people chose stone as building materials for their boundary walls. Stone being so durable and strong, these walls would not require frequent repairs or rebuilding.

Historical Background for Stone Walling   

During the medieval period settlers settled in higher lands where there were fewer and fewer trees. As a result of this, wood was not readily available, but stones were available in plenty, as a result most of the people of those times would have selected stones to build their walls as it was very cost effective and strong. It is one of the most nature friendly building materials as well.

Most of the monastic houses that were situated in remote locations preferred by monks of the 12th century were also built using this walling method. One of the best examples for this is the Fountain abbey that is situated in North Yorkshire.

After the collapsing of the feudal system, the villagers enclosed their properties by stone walls so they could show off their agricultural boundaries to their neighbors. The enclosed lands were used for farming or as a grazing land for the cattle. Use of dry stone walling’s has now reduced due to the use of wire fencing and they are under the threat of going extinct as more and more constructors are dismantling them and using the stones for modern constructions. This is a thing that should be avoided at all costs if we want to gift this ancient legacy to the future generations.


Dry stone walling is notable as one of the most nature friendly and eye-catching invention of men’s skilled craftsmanship. They were built by our ancestor’s either to mark their agricultural boundaries or to safe guard their holdings and cattle, stone was used because they were sturdier than wood and more easily available..


So remember, dry stone walling has a lot of stories to tell you about its history from Neolithic period up to the end of feudalism, even if they are composed of only stones without mortar in between. The use of stone walling has now gone down and they are beginning to vanish but a lot of skill is required to create a mortar less wall that would not fall down at the slightest tremor.