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Saturday, 5 June 2010

Dry Stane Dyking

Well I am exhausted after a day of dry stane dyking (dry stone walling) .... um no I didn't actually DO any myself, but it's very tiring watching other people work, not to mention providing refreshments for workers and spectators!

Today was Day 1 of a two day course on dry stane dyking, funded by the Scapa Flow Landscape Partnership, with instruction provided by Brian Omand of East Mainland. I'd offered my garden dyke as material for the course and half a dozen folk from the island came along to learn the skill of building a dyke without using any cement.

This is the "before" picture

It was fascinating watching the art - stones carefully placed to provide strength and structure. The day had started misty but the sun soon burned that off, so I was dispensing sun screen along with tea!

Several other island folk stopped by to watch the workers and admire the newly repaired dyke taking shape. It has to be said I was more than a little alarmed when the first action was to demolish the dyke right back to the foundation. There was an awful lot of stone on my new lawn and very little in the dyke! I couldn't really believe that everyone would finish the wall today - actually I'm not sure the *participants* believed they'd finish it today. At one point I was in danger of being buried in the middle of the dyke just for having come up with the idea for the course! It WAS hard work!

This is the dyke taken back to the foundation as it was bulging out and unbalanced (doesn't really show up in the "before" picture).

Anyway I am absolutely delighted with the end result. Tomorrow's task is to build an "end" to the dyke so that a gate can be put into the current gap. The original end and gate post were demolished in the mists of time when the garden was used as a silage pit and the gate was probably widened to get farm machinery through, but no one knows for sure. The current plan is to put an 8 foot "farm" type gate in place, but first the end needs to be built up again. More pictures to follow after Day 2!

Nearly finished!

And even the hens joined in! Well OK they were just digging around among the earth laid bare once the old stones had been laid on the wall, but still they did their bit!


  1. What an exciting event - to happen and to watch!!!

  2. It looks like they did a fabulous job.

  3. It's so rare to be able to watch this sort of craft taking place. We've driven past them occasionally, but to have it take place in your own garden must be such a thrill. The wall looks wonderful and it will be interesting to see the end of the dyke.

  4. that's looking like a fine bit of wall now:)

  5. It was great to watch and lovely to see the wall rebuilt after years of being a pile of rubble!