Thursday, March 10, 2011


Can you imagine coming across a 'meeting' like this one. We discovered it Cumbria hiking from the Olde Dungeon Ghyll in Great Langdale to Little Langdale along the ridge of Lingmoor Fell

There they were, all the stone-faced constituents, gathered in a big stand-off. The 'joint' was completely silent. The entire length of the 'meeting' continued to rise in a kind of suspended line of tension. Neither side was backing down. Some of the really hard-liners in the both conglomerations refused to budge, even on the lowest levels. They were a rough looking bunch - cold and immovable.

Some of the more miserable ones had actually fallen out! Some stopped just short of making the others appear to be 'missing the mark'. Only a few had even tried to take a different 'slant' on things. But clearly there was a noticeable 'split'. Presumably there was an issue over some imperceptible difference in technique. This schism, where these structures still continued to confront each other, had evidently lasted for many years.

Perhaps it was a dispute involving jurisdiction. Maybe they couldn't 'meet' on some now long forgotten issue. Although it is hard to see any difference in the two, it seems neither side wanted to 'touch' on any area of compromise. Neither side was willing to 'merge'.

The two appeared to be equally as important, equally as 'correct'. Looking along both directions and putting some perspective on it, it's evident they both have a long line of support behind them. And both sides are actually still doing a great job! Although neither side has much contact with the other, both sides of the wall seem connected by a single genuine commitment to a strong structural dry stone walling tradition.


  1. Reminds me of Olive and Dorothy (my Grandma and Great Aunt). Both great ladies that hadn't spoken to each other in over 50 years. Neither could remember why, yet both insisted the other had somehow wronged them. The family is still clueless about the rift and both ladies have passed away in the last few years. I always thought of them as tough "iron ladies" but probably more like a couple of stubborn rock heads (like your wall heads in the photo- so close, yet so far).

  2. Danp, you hit the chisel on the head with that!
    It sounds just like a couple of 'rock heads' not willing to budge.
    Maybe with all of the heat from tempers and ill spoken words, they can metamorphosize some limestone into a beautiful marble.

  3. I think any reasonable ethics-driven waller cannot look at this photo without sensing a strong desire to rebuild this section and join the two sides. I don't think anyone would hold that waller at fault for trying. I suppose this blatant split is there for a reason. The new construction code demand that control joints be placed at intervals to alleviate tension caused by differences in how each wall considers stresses and loads. Traditional masons know that properly built walls do not require these contemporary divisions because their design actually takes advantage of these loads and shares it for the good of the entire wall. I wonder, if these two walls could stand back for a moment, would they would see that the only loads they are under are their own?