Finished wall - June 7, 2005

Random Courses - Building "The Wall"

At 10 a.m. on Monday 5th. June 2006 we arrived at the site and cut the turf and dug out the foundation: 20 inches wide, 84 inches long and about 4 inches deep.
We set up the traditional wooden "A" frames that I had prepared the day before. These are used to keep the slope correct as the wall narrows towards the top, it can also be used to measure the vertical accurately with a plumb line dropped from either end. Cords are strung between the ends for each course of "stones" and as the wall is built the stones are aligned with these lines.

The front of the house at 448 Bagot St. before the start of work on the wall.

Foundation and wooden frames

There are three main ways to utilize the available stone to build a wall: COURSING, RANDOM COURSING and DUMP and HOLE. If the stone is quite even, flat bedded and sizes don't differ too much, then you would COURSE this stone. If the stone was quite even, flat bedded, but was all different sizes, then without doubt this stone would be better RANDOM COURSED. My boxes ideally suited this style of building.
Stone that is rough, mis-shaped, and uneven, has to be used just like a jigsaw puzzle, placed and slotted together wherever they will fit - DUMP and HOLE.

First row

`Ben went to buy 30 bags of earth and I started filling the largest boxes for the foundation stones. I had previously sorted all the boxes by size and following the proper method for a stone wall, used the largest boxes for the base course. The soil was wet and it made the cardboard somewhat soft. I later realized that it would have been more solid in this case to use many smaller boxes for the base as they would not have distorted so easily.
We worked all that day - Ben filling boxes and sealing them with packaging tape, and I placing them on the wall, raising the lines for each course (or lift), and trying to follow the rules of not having too many running joints and with regular throughstones to anchor both sides. I filled the spaces between the two sides with a packing of more earth.

Second and third course

At the end of the day I covered the wall with a tarpaulin to protect it overnight.

Tuesday 06/06/06:

Horoscope for Virgo:
"There's nothing like sweat equity to make you feel like you've really put a part of yourself into something. Physical effort toward your goal will not only pay off in progress, but will also pay off emotionally. Your work ethic is admirable, and it has been gaining you a throng of quiet admirers - one of whom has a lot of pull. Keep going at it with your humble, hardworking approach. Above anything else, it will feel good to be tired at the end of every night."

On Tuesday morning I had some boxes to use at the start as Ben had filled them the night before. They were rather soft from the wet soil, but the day was very hot and the wall was situated in sun all day, so the boxes dried out quite well. Ben continued filling boxes with earth and I continued building the wall for another day. I tried to follow the Wallers Prayer : One upon Two, Two Upon One and also to place every stone (or box) picked up, rather than moving them around too much. This requires continuous study of the wall and of the available stones to imagine where best to place each one. At 5 p.m. on Tuesday I again covered the wall with the tarp, knowing that I only had the two top layers to do. I had decided that the Topping Off would be made with all tissue boxes to give an even, regular finish.

Tuesday Morning

Installation in progress

Installation in progress - continued

On Wednesday morning, we met again at 10 a.m. and completed the tops. We had used almost all the boxes that I had collected for over a year, except for a number of very small ones. We had one and a half bags of earth left, but had used up all the sod removed at the beginning to fill boxes. The wall is only three feet high from the ground and narrows at the top to 10 inches wide. (A typical stone wall would be 24 inches in width at the base and 14 inches at the top. It would be 4 foot 6 inches high including the tops - or 54 inches.)

Almost finished

Finished 3/4 view

Finished wall - close-up

Finished view

Street view

The Guide To Dry Stone Walling by Eddie Rowney in 2000 - "the only dry stone walling book written by a master waller giving the reader a complete and professional guide to this ancient craft." - has been my main teacher throughout the process.
I have also benefited from watching and talking in 1998 with members of the Yorkshire Dry Stone Walling Guild at the Kildale Show.
John Heslegrave, Master Waller, gave me invaluable information and shared his library of walling and stone working books in 2004 when he was building a wall on my brother's property in Little Ayton, Cleveland, U.K.
My friends Nan Hogg and Veronica Desjardins have saved boxes to add to my collection and Ben Darrah has been of inestimable ongoing support and assistance.

Ann Clarke
Thursday 8th. June 2006

Ongoing pictures of the wall will be added to this site to document how weather and actions of passersby effects the wall.

Friday, June 9, 2006

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

South view

North view showing damage to top row. Some passersby could not resist trying to open

the boxes to see what was in them.

Damage to top row - detail below.

Sunday July 2, 2006

The damage from the weather and the passersby lead to an interesting sag in the right half of the wall.

Sunday, July 9, 2006

After discussions with the curator, Jocelyn Purdie, it was decided to dismantle the wall. In the following pictures the

weather and passersby damage is apparent. It is also striking how much the boxes faded, so that the wall went from

a brightly coloured wall to a faded blue.


The removal

Faded box/brick

A sprout was found emerging through the cardboard of one of the boxes.

Final removal


©2006 Ann Clarke