Dry stone walls in History 

 Enclosing land with dry stone walls probably began in prehistory when nomadic hunter gatherers settled into farming.  The middle ages open field systems characteristic of medieval English agriculture evolved into a more enclosed system. Material used to build the enclosures would have been the stone lying in the fields. Initial small enclosures close to the farms would have expanded into larger enclosed areas, claiming and controlling more of the land. Expansion continued into the Elizabethan period when for the first time cottagers and householders could legally enclose small crofts or private areas of ground. 


Around the middle of the 18th century enclosures were promoted by large landowners. They were in a position to influence Acts of Parliament, effectively stripping the smaller farmers  of their common  rights to graze their animals on the land.


By 1820 most of the dry stone wall enclosures had been built.


 In England there are 69,926miles (112,600km) of dry stone walls of which only 13% are considered stock proof or in excellent condition. Which means 87% of walls are either showing signs of advanced deterioration, becoming derelict, are derelict or have remnants only. CCP482(Coutryside Commission1996).


  There are hundreds of miles of dry stone walls on the Mendips alone that are in dire need of reconstruction. If they are left to decay at the current rate the walls will disappear from the countryside all together in the not to distant future. The walls on the Mendips have been in place since the middle of the nineteenth century. The walls not only provides a stunning visual experience but also provide valuable plant and wildlife habitat. Rebuilding the walls along the original boundaries with the original stone is the ultimate in recycling and returns them to their former splendour and function.

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