Professor Norton Folgate's History of Dry Stone Walling

Written by birbee

Monday, 24 October 2011

image for Professor Norton Folgate's History of Dry Stone Walling

In the sometime occasional series by Professor Norton Folgate there have been many fascinating and intriguing topics and today's is no exception.

Enjoying an afternoon with the esteemed Professor, he had this to say:

"You find dry stone walling all over the place. Well, when I say all over the place, I don't really mean everywhere I just mean places where there is a need for it and then it isn't always in every place but normally bleak poor places like Derbyshire, Cumbria and parts of Yorkshire.

It is routinely rumoured that Northern Farmers favoured the dry method of walling as the wind dried out the mortar too quickly when they were building walls on the moors, but this is total hogwash. The fact of the matter is that they were simply too tight to buy any.

The labour they used to build the structures, some of which can still be seen to this day, in photos in museums and Working Men's Clubs and the like, was particularly stupid and this probably contributed to the lack of mortar also.

Have you ever tried training a thick Yorkshireman how to mix mortar, let alone build stuff with it?

So the best course of action was to show the local dunces a big pile of rocks and encourage them to stack them up.

You could always tell a wall builder, apparently, by the lack of fingers and the more fingers lacking then the longer in the game, generally.

There was, of course, exceptions to this rule and Terry 'Fingers' Allgold was such an exception. Terry worked as a Dry Stone Wall Builder for all of his life and never lost a single finger.

The fact that he died when he was 19 and only ever laid four stones may be a contributing factor however, but it was still a rarity.

In places you can still find walls being built today, mainly by criminals on Community Service, however due to strict Health and Safety regulations the rocks are now made from polystyrene and are not very durable thus resulting in rapid decay due to the grim weather."

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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