Some content on this page may be a little dated. Things like legislation, prices and grant information can change quite quickly. This page was created from content written during or before 2012 and is a priority for us to update.
The Dry Stone Walling Association
In 1938 the late Colonel F Rainsford-Hannay formed the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright Drystane Dyking Committee to further the knowledge of and enthusiasm for the walling craft. In 1968 the Committee founded a national organisation called the Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain. The DSWA, now a registered charity, is a thriving organisation with a growing membership, reflecting the upsurge of interest in walling in recent years.
The Association offers four levels of membership:
- Open – for those with a general interest in walling
- Junior – for those under 16
- Professional – for the working waller or dyker
- Corporate – for companies and organisations wishing to support DSWA work.
Members receive the magazine Waller and Dyker three times a year, which contains general articles, information about branch activities, practice meets, courses and other information. There are currently 19 local branches, covering most of the major walling areas of Great Britain. The branches organise their own competitions, courses and other activities.
The DSWA produces the Register of Professional Wallers and Sources of Stone, to advertise professional members and those corporate members supplying stone. The DSWA also publishes a range of leaflets and booklets on all aspects of the walling craft. Visit the DSWA website (www.dswa.org.uk) for further information.
Training and certification
Training courses in dry stone walling are run by The Conservation Volunteers and by local branches of the DSWA. Branches of the DSWA also hold practice meets, which are informal sessions open to all.
The DSWA operates the Craftsman Certification Scheme, which is a series of progressive, practical tests designed to ensure that dry stone wallers and dykers achieve the highest standards of craftsmanship. The tests are available at Initial, Intermediate, Advanced and Master Craftsman levels, and have been developed over a number of years to provide wallers/dykers with nationally recognised accreditation.
Many agricultural colleges run courses in dry stone walling. Some courses are designed to prepare and examine students according to the Farm Maintenance test of the National Proficiency Test Council. Further details are available from the NPTC Secretary for your area, who can be contacted either through your local agricultural college, or through the head office of the NPTC. Details are given on the NPTC website (www.nptc.org.uk).
National Vocational Qualifications/Scottish Vocational Qualifications
National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) and Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) are work-related, competence based qualifications, which are available to anyone at any age or stage of their career. Candidates do not have to follow a course, but need to have evidence that they have the competence to meet the NVQ/SVQ standards.
The NVQ in Environmental Conservation includes competence in dry stone walling and other practical conservation techniques. Over 50% of the NVQs in Environmental Conservation are gained by trainees and others working with The Conservation Volunteers. Contact your local office for further information.
DSWA Certificates are accepted as evidence of competence towards the Environmental Conservation NVQ.
Competitions and awards
DSWA organises local competitions promotes the ‘Grand Prix’ circuit of walling competitions. DSWA also stage exhibits and demonstrations of walling at agricultural shows and other events.
DWSA runs the Pinnacle Award Scheme to commend dry stone walling projects of outstanding quality and merit, or other noteworthy projects of which dry stone walling comprises the most prominent feature. This award, while still recognising the importance of dry stone walling for stock management, is a reflection of the growing use of dry stone walling skills in pubic works, sculptures, garden features and historical restoration projects.
The Ronnie Ball Award of the DSWA recognises and rewards the achievements of individual young people in the craft of dry stone walling and dyking.
There is no single system of grants for walling, and the availability of grants depends mainly on the area in question. Grants may be available as part of farm agreements for farms within Environmentally Sensitive Areas, National Parks or for Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Funding for land managers may be available through Natural England, which is operated through the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
In Wales, Natural Resources Wales operates Glastir, which is a whole-farm scheme under which dry stone walls and cloddiau may qualify for grant aid.
In Scotland, the Scottish Government and Scottish Natural Heritage should be contacted for current information regarding grants.
Grants for dry stone work other than farm walling may also be available. For example, dry stone features in community gardens, in restoration schemes, alongside cycle paths or other projects which benefit the community may attract other sources of funding from organisations which sponsor the arts, community action, urban renewal and so on.
For most projects, initial contact should be made with the conservation officer of similar of the local authority, who should be able to give further advice relating to your area and project. The Conservation Volunteers can help its Community Network members to find grants. Contact them for further advice.
The Millennium Wall
The Millennium Wall is a permanent exhibit of regional and local styles of dry stone walling. In April 2000, wallers gathered at the National Stone Centre at Wirksworth in Derbyshire and constructed the wall, using stone brought from all the major walling areas of Britain. A series of interpretative display boards provides information to visitors, and a video and book about the wall are available from the DSWA. For further information visit the DSWA website.