Im off today to Spain. Patrick McAfee and I will taking a group of Canadian walling enthusiasts on a 9 day walking tour of walls and stone structures on the islands of Mallorca and Minorca in Spain.
Back in 2007 I attended a dry stone walling workshop which took place in the village of Deia on the island of Mallorca. Thirty-six participants, men and women from America and Europe, guided by six Mallorcan mason-instructors from Artifex Balear, a stone masonry and stone carving school on the island, successfully completed the technically demanding repair of a tall, curving retaining wall in the local style. We also dismantled and rebuilt a free-standing boundary wall and built a ramp – all on land owned by the village.
This trip we are going to be looking at more stonework, from ancient megalithic sites to newer cathedrals and bridges of stone, and of course, miles and miles of spectacular dry stone retaining walls built years ago to create terraces for growing olive trees.
My favorite part of the trip will be seeing some more of the rustic corbel-vaulted dry stone huts that were built throughout parts of the island.These shepherd\ploughman dwellings are made of rough random chunks of unshaped sandstone and by many standards are very crude, but they carry a significance for me, as they represent the impressive ingenuity of the common people to build permanent vaulted structures without having the opportunity to be formally trained or accredited. The Mallorcan farmers were not afraid of stone. They were comfortable with dry stone construction too.They must have had little regard for those who criticized their enthusiasm for putting it to practical use, but simply utilized stone structurally, practically, wisely and intuitively as they needed it.