Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Irish Ditch

Patrick stands beside the ditch we completed yesterday near Seattle Washington.

Patrick McAfee explained to the students attending our Stonefest workshop in Seattle that a certain kind of dirt-filled stone wall, like the one that we were to build this week, is commonly called a ditch, in Ireland.

It is a very similar to the Welsh clawdd an example of which I invited Sean Adcock to teach us to build in Canada last year at our own Festival of Stone.Both sides now 

These Irish ditches were sometimes consumption walls, using up a lot of stone and dirt , usually from having dug a deep trench first. They are used for livestock containment , or defensive barriers and often formed boundary lines. They become a haven for many species of wildlife. 

Our Irish wall was constructed with stone provided by Marenakos Rock Centre. It was a random chunky basalt material shipped down from Canada. We fitted the stones together in an upright wedged configuration. 


Our team began building our curved 'ditch' by placing the largest stones in an alternating pattern of tall short so that the second lift of stones could be wedged between the ones below. 

It is important to have running joints in this type of wall, as broken joints do not wedge properly and would be far less strong. 


Despite a rough almost haphazard look to the untrained eye the stones are all fitted very carefully in an extremely structural interlocking pattern and come to a clever level point at shoulder height. 

The inside is filled with stony soil pit run, clay or in our case dirt and then topped with turf. Often sprigs of hawthorn are planted in the wall while it is begin built to eventually ensure a dense impenetrable growth to the barrier and also to strengthen the mix with the resulting root system