The broad influence of geology has been looked at in chapter 1 – Walls in the landscape. A few areas with a fairly simple geology have similar walls throughout, such as the walls of the Cotswolds which are built almost entirely of oolitic limestone. The granite areas of south west England and Aberdeenshire each have their typical styles which make use of the large, rough granite boulders.
In other areas the geological picture is much more complex, and walls can vary from farm to farm, and from field to field. It can be misleading to take one style as being representative of a region or an area, when there is so much variation. Quite often you will find walling styles which are almost unique to a specific farm or estate. Frequently you will find an isolated style of wall which is far more widespread in an area hundreds of miles away. The influence of stone type, size and weight is always important, but there are many other influences at work, and it is almost impossible to define a typical style for a region or locality. There has probably always been much intermixing of styles, copying of techniques from other areas and movement of skilled workers, so that it is also difficult to attribute a particular style as originating in a particular locality.
The purpose of this chapter is to show some of the variations that are found in walling. The examples given illustrate styles which can be found in an area, but do not necessarily define what is ‘typical’ for an area. Subtle details and local traditions need to be considered before a wall is built or repaired, even if these are not necessarily followed.
The illustrations on the inside covers give further examples of variations in walling styles.