Natural Environments: Stone Walls

Bradford on Avon Hundred area, Wiltshire


wall at Great Cumberwell

Fields of the upland parts of the Bradford Hundred were traditionally separated by dry-stone walls -that is, walls that are made without the use of any mortar. In settled areas, like Bradford,  the walls are more likely to be held together with mortar.

stone wall and stile, Ashley

The stone was normally available on site, or very nearby, because the cost and effort of transport would have been prohibitive. Building the walls is a slow and skilled process, carefully selecting the blocks of stone and making them fit together. Many of these old walls -and some of them may even date back thousands of years into prehistory- are now in a poor state, because of a lack of maintenance. Others have been repaired using mortar to hold them together. Some have been robbed to build elsewhere, or have been grubbed out and replaced by barbed wire.

Ivy is a serious menace to walls, as are trees that are growing close to or on walls. A recent problem is Buddleja.

The many joints between the stones provide shelter for many insects, spiders, snails and other invertebrates as well as for toads and nesting places for some small birds, such as tits.