Dry Stone Construction

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Dry stone is a method of building where the stones are placed on top of each other without using any mortar to bind them. Interlocking style of stones makes them very stable. Dry-stone construction is better known for making walls, however other structures also exist. It is one of the earliest forms of construction and dates back to 4000 BC.


Advantages & Disadvantages of Dry Stone Construction

There are many benefits associated with dry stone construction. It is an Eco- Friendly style of construction and does not require cement and steel. Though the construction is time consuming it is very sturdy. Some dry stone construction work from the 15th century is still standing. They are very sturdy and require low maintenance in their life time. With the growing awareness of conserving the resources of the planet, dry stone construction is once again becoming popular. It uses the natural materials available in the surrounding areas and can bring down the cost drastically. This style of construction does not require any cement plaster on the walls. It requires very low foundations.

Dry Stone Construction lost its popularity with the invention of RCC (Re-enforced Concrete Construction). Time required to construct a building came down drastically with the invention of RCC and bricks. Also due to costs of land going up, people started building vertically. The disadvantage of dry stone construction is that it cannot support multi structure buildings. Slowly the skills for dry stone construction started dying.

Dry stone construction is an art of putting the stones together. Better the skills, finer the work. Some of the skilled masons can construct a very fine wall. In recent times, the demand for dry stone skill workers is on the rise.


There are many ways of constructing dry stone walls. Most walls are constructed from stones and boulders found in fields cleared for agriculture. The type of construction depends on the nature of the stones, quantity available and the skills of the worker. Double Wall: Usually the wall is about 18” thick. Two stones walls are built at a gap of 18” and the space in between is filled with smaller stones. It resembles two walls being constructed back to back. The flat surface of the stone gives a smooth finish to both sides of the wall. Smaller stones are used as chocks in areas where the natural stone shape is more rounded. The walls are built up to the desired height layer by layer. At places large stones are used that cover the full 18”. This has a bonding effect on the two walls. The final layer on the top of the wall consists of large stones (called cap stones) that span the width of the wall. This prevents the wall from splitting into two halves. This kind of a double wall is used in building homes and buildings. Boulder Walls: This type of a wall is mainly used as retaining walls. It consists of large boulders, around which smaller stones are placed. Ideally, the largest stones are placed at the bottom and the whole wall tapers toward the top. Sometimes a row of capstones completes the top of a wall. This type of a wall is very popular in the hills as retainer walls. Different regions have made minor modifications to the general method of construction -- sometimes because of limitations of building material available, but also, to create a look that is distinctive for that area. Whatever method is used to build a dry stone wall, considerable skill is required. Selection of the correct stone for every position in the wall makes an enormous difference to the life of the finished product. In some areas the stones are chipped into rectangular shape to give a better finish. This is also done when the skill available is low.


  • http://www.drystone.org Drystone.Org
  • http://www.drystone-walling.co.uk Drystone Walling

See Also