Posted in Blog, HOUSE & GARDEN, House Renovation

The Courtyard Wall—Stage 6—Finished at last!

Archway finishedNot a lot left to say—the poor old climbing rose on the right of the image has survived all the abuse that came with being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It has wonderful deep blood-red blooms in early summer so we hope it now thrives in its new setting.

View through the archAnd by this stage I’d managed to use most of the good stone, and clear the courtyard of the remaining rubble—although it did make quite a mountain out in the back garden.

The courtyard clear of stone at last

Posted in Blog, HOUSE & GARDEN, House Renovation

The Courtyard Wall—Stage 5

Once I had all the arch stones mortared in place, I ran an oak timber on the inside behind the arch to finish spanning the opening. Further dry stone was then added in courses as usual. I wanted two or three shallow courses of stone above the arch to reach the final height.

dry stoning above the archThe image on the left below was taken from the old balcony and the image to the right is a good illustration of ‘the Double’ – one line of face stones to the outside, and a second to the inside, with the middle filled with smaller locking stones.

dry stone courses above the archAnd the view from the front……………….almost finished. I’ll need to find a solvent or some other method for removing the painted numbers on each of the arch stones. The farmer I bought the arch from had marked each stone as he’d demolished it. Essential maybe, but now, 10 years on, maybe not so easy to get rid of.

Arch from the front almost finished

Posted in HOUSE & GARDEN, House Renovation

And The Walls Came Tumbling Down!

Stonefall—happened one evening, June 2007; no-one below luckily. This section was due for demolition—just hadn’t got round to it. Guess I got away with this one with just a bit of scrappy boarding getting smashed and buried by the rubble.

In the image below, I’ve zeroed in on the unstable area prior to the collapse. We were in the process of removing the original large and heavy flat stones along the top of the wall. Once a roof has gone on a crude stone building like this, the weather and rain get in, and then when the frost comes, water freezes, expands, and gradually “blows” the wall.  This collapse, however,  well illustrates the structure of the dry stone wall (the Double) — the outside face stone collapsed, leaving the inner face still in place.

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The Courtyard Wall—Stage 2—2009

First arch stones left hand side in placeIn the 2 year interval since starting the wall—see post Stage 1—a lot of work had been completed on the ruined end of the property, as you can see in the photo above. It is no longer a ruin, but we were yet to move into it! I’d continued to add to the wall off and on, an hour here, a morning there, throughout these two years, until the point came when I needed to clear the courtyard of all the mix of rubble, and stone that had accumulated. It was time to crack on with the wall and get the archway underway.

First Arch stone in placeCrane lifting the first stoneHaving the crane obviously makes a huge difference to what one can achieve safely and quickly, especially when working alone. The control module for the crane—at the end of 20m of heavy cable—is used on the ground and occasionally Denise used the controls whilst I steadied the stones and gave her instructions to position the stone exactly. The crane had just enough reach but at its maximum extension, heavy weights do tend to ‘bounce’ a little due to the jib flexing under the load. Can be quite exciting at times!

3 Arch Stones in place

Posted in Blog, HOUSE & GARDEN, House Renovation

The Courtyard Wall—Stage 1—April 2005

Started rebuilding the stone boundary wall by clearing the ground to lay down the foundation stones. The original wall had once been considerably higher but was now in a very poor state, unstable and overgrown with ivy. It looked a mess, so we demolished all but the final metre in the corner.

For classic dry-stone walling, you normally lay “The Double” and place smaller ‘locking’ stones between them in the middle of the wall. The Double refers to the two largish, flatish stones, one laid on the exterior side, the other on the interior. For the foundation, I often simply utilize very large stones that fill the whole width, circa 80cm, of the shallow foundation trench. There is no need to use any cement or lime mortar at any stage in the construction of a “dry” wall. Provided you abide by a couple of simple rules, and take care and attention, your wall will outlast you, your children, and their children’s children.

And those two simple rules?

Two on One and One on Two
All stones touching all neighbouring stones.