A Day of Walling in the Woods

Dry stone walling can be defined in its simplest terms as the act of placing one stone on two. But no sooner is that act completed when a much broader world view opens to the stone worker. This understanding was the basis of the one-day workshop held last Saturday in Dummerston, Vermont. Eleven participants from around New England came together to hear talks on forestland and geology, and build dry stone features alongside town hiking trails. Visiting walling instructor and DSWA Mastercraftsman Dave Goulder, from Rosehall, Scotland, joined me in taking the group on an exploration of the local cultural landscape.

Miles of old stone walls criss-cross the woodlands. Their physical conditions vary from, as pristine as the day they were built 150 years ago, to, thoroughly decayed. We admired the ingenuity and fortitude of those who built the walls we hiked past, and spent a few hours repairing gaps and adding features in the style and spirit of those who came before us. Four new gate ends were constructed where the trail intersected an old wall line. Where the trail crossed a small stream, an abutment and single-slab bridge was built.

Thanks go out to Lynn Levine and Roger Haydock for their thought provoking talks, and to the great bunch (all guys, this workshop) who contributed to making the Dummerston hiking trails even more special. And to The Stone Trust for seeing to all the details that made our day a delight.

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