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Heritage Lottery grant boosts Dry Stone Walling preservation and skills in the North West

The project aims to increase career prospects in dry stone walling by providing five training bursaries throughout the North West and offering support for established dry stone wallers to enhance their skills.

According to the Dry Stone Walling Association the craft of dry stone walling is vital to the preservation of the country’s landscape heritage. Since pre-history this ancient technique has been used for dwellings and enclosures; the earliest form known in Great Britain built some 5,000 years ago on Orkney. However, it is the field walls, mostly of the 18th and 19th centuries, that have made the greatest impression on the present day landscape.

The Cumbrian Branch of the Dry Stone Walling Association busy repairing a stretch of wall

Part of the grant will provide training with bursary opportunities in the North West enabling individuals to learn heritage skills that will ultimately provide an income while also helping to maintain the landscape for future generations to enjoy.

The Association said the network of dry stone walls is a unifying feature, providing a skeleton to the landscape, giving it form, coherence, structure, perspective and distinction with visitors to the uplands of the UK marvelling at the patchwork of field boundaries stretching up from the valley floors and climbing the steep slopes of the fells. The uplands of North West England are particularly rich in dry stone walls.

The HLF grant will provide training with bursary opportunities in the North West enabling individuals to learn heritage skills

Ray Stockall, Chairman of the Dry Stone Walling Association said the HLF grant would support the Dry Stone Walling Association in its mission to preserve, improve and advance the knowledge and understanding of the traditional craft of dry stone walling.

“The provision of Training Bursaries and support for skills development, coupled with a programme to enhance public awareness of our heritage sector will help us to ensure that the skills vital for this ancient craft are passed from the Master Craftsmen of today to the young craftsmen of tomorrow to secure the future of our landscape heritage,” he said.

The Built Landscape Heritage Education and Training Project will also deliver an educational programme for schools and colleges providing access to online teaching resources and offer students the opportunity to engage with the age-old craft of dry stone walling. Local communities in the North West will be encouraged to get involved in local restoration projects and help address the decline of traditional boundaries which affects both their practical and aesthetic value.

Sara Hilton, Head of HLF North West, said the heritage sector had a real need for people who have specialist conservation skills to protect the country’s heritage for future generations.