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Dry Stone Walls Teminology

It came to my attention recently when researching how they built walls in different parts of the UK that many of the words I used where local not just to Yorkshire but to specific farms and fields.

For instance, my Grandfather, who first introduced me to dry stone walling, always referred to the Capping Stone, as the stone underneath the topping (capping off the wall from any water) In many other parts of the UK you will not find a specific stone for this purpose, more a variety of stone, called the Cover Course.

However in most parts of the UK the Capping Stone is another name for the Topping.


In the area where I work, there is no shortage of old roofing stone, which have since been converted and recycled to good use on drystone walls, making excellent stone to finish off the wall.

The small round holes are still visible in many of the stones, where the original peg would have held the roofing stone onto the roof.

When working away from my local area, I struggle to find many of these old roofing stones and therefore many walls rely solely on the topping to cap the wall and protect it from the rain. It brings me to the conclusion that the terminology for each wall and each area id not an exact science, and dry Stone Waller from the past had to rely on whatever stone was local to them.


Here is a run down of the various names for different sections of the dry stone wall.


Topping

The term "topping" refers to the cap or coping stones that are placed on the uppermost layer of the wall. Topping stones serve both functional and aesthetic purposes in dry stone wall construction.

Here's more information about the topping on a dry stone wall:

The topping stones provide protection to the underlying layers of the wall by acting as a cover or shield. They help prevent moisture from seeping into the wall's core, which can cause deterioration over time. Topping stones also help reduce the potential for vegetation growth on the top surface of the wall.

Topping stones add an additional layer of weight to the wall, enhancing its stability and resistance against external forces. They help distribute the weight of the wall evenly and provide a solid cap to prevent the stones below from shifting or becoming dislodged.

Topping stones contribute to the visual appeal of the dry stone wall. They can create a neat and finished appearance, adding a cohesive element to the overall design. Topping stones may be flat, rounded, or shaped to complement the style of the wall or the surrounding environment.

Topping stones are typically larger and more substantial than the stones used in the body of the wall. They can be made of various materials such as limestone, sandstone, or granite, depending on the local availability and desired aesthetic. Topping stones are carefully selected and placed to ensure a level and secure top surface for the wall.

It's worth noting that not all dry stone walls have toppings. The use of topping stones can vary depending on the specific design, purpose, and regional construction techniques. In some cases, the uppermost layer of the wall may be finished with carefully placed stones that are similar in size and shape to the rest of the wall, creating a more uniform appearance.


Cover Course

The term "cover course" refers to the topmost horizontal layer of stones that caps the wall. It is the final layer that provides a protective cover and finishing touch to the wall. Here are some key aspects of the cover course in a dry stone wall:

The cover course is placed on top of the wall structure, usually immediately below the topping stones or coping stones. It forms the uppermost visible layer of the wall, providing a clean and defined edge.

The cover course plays a significant role in the appearance of the dry stone wall. It is often carefully selected and arranged to create an aesthetically pleasing and cohesive design. The stones used for the cover course may be chosen for their size, shape, color, or texture to create a visually appealing finish.

While the primary purpose of the cover course is aesthetic, it also provides some added stability and protection to the underlying layers of the wall. It helps shield the interior stones from weathering, moisture, and potential damage. The cover course also contributes to the overall strength and durability of the wall by providing a solid, well-anchored top layer.

The stones used for the cover course can vary depending on the desired look and local availability. They may match the type of stone used in the rest of the wall or be specifically chosen for their visual appeal. The stones are carefully placed and fitted together to create a level and secure top surface.

It's important to note that the terminology and specific construction techniques for dry stone walls can vary regionally. While the concept of a cover course is commonly used, the name and exact details may differ in different areas.


The Second Lift

The "second lift" refers to the second layer or course of stones that is laid on top of the first lift. It follows the initial foundation course and is an integral part of building the overall structure of the wall. Here are some important aspects of the second lift in a dry stone wall:

After the first lift has been properly leveled and aligned, the second lift is placed on top of it, making sure it the wall has adequate 'through stones' in between the 1st and 2nd lift.

The stones in the second lift are carefully selected and positioned to interlock with the stones in the first lift, creating a stable and cohesive structure.

Similar to the first lift, the stones in the second lift are arranged in a way that promotes interlocking and interference. This helps enhance the stability and strength of the wall, preventing the stones from shifting or dislodging over time.

Each stone in the second lift is individually placed and adjusted to ensure levelness and alignment with the overall wall. Proper leveling and alignment are crucial to maintain the structural integrity of the wall as it progresses upwards. The second lift contributes to the overall stability and strength of the wall by adding additional layers of stones. As subsequent lifts are added, the structure becomes more robust and able to withstand external pressures and forces.

Repeating the Process: The process of adding subsequent lifts continues until the desired height of the wall is reached. Each lift is carefully constructed, taking into consideration interlocking, leveling, and alignment, to create a solid and durable dry stone wall.

It's important to note that the number of lifts and specific terminology used in dry stone wall construction can vary depending on regional practices and project requirements. The second lift represents a significant step in building the wall, but the process may involve multiple additional lifts to complete the construction. Consulting with experienced dry stone wall builders or referring to local construction guidelines can provide more precise information for a particular region or project.


Through Stones or Tie Rock

The stone layer underneath the topping stones in a dry stone wall is commonly referred to as the "through stones" or "throughs" or "Tie Stones/Rocks".


Through stones are horizontal stones that span the entire width of the wall, connecting the two faces or sides of the wall. They play a crucial role in enhancing the structural integrity and stability of the wall.


Through stones provide strength and stability to the wall by tying the two faces together. They help distribute the weight and forces evenly across the wall, preventing the faces from separating or bulging outwards. Through stones act as anchor points, ensuring that the wall remains structurally sound and resistant to movement.

Through stones are typically placed at regular intervals throughout the height of the wall, often running perpendicular to the direction of the wall. They are positioned horizontally and extend from one face of the wall to the other. Through stones should be securely embedded within the wall structure to ensure stability.

Through stones are usually larger and more substantial than the stones used in the body of the wall. They may have a consistent size or vary in dimension depending on the specific wall design and local construction traditions. Through stones are often selected based on their ability to provide strength and bridge the gap between the faces of the wall.

Through stones should be carefully positioned to interlock with the adjacent stones in the wall. This interlocking helps create a cohesive structure, preventing the stones from moving or shifting independently. Through stones are typically placed in such a way that they overlap with the stones in the wall to create a strong connection.

The through stones, along with the topping stones, contribute to the overall stability, strength, and longevity of a dry stone wall. They work together to ensure that the wall can withstand external forces and maintain its structural integrity over time.


The First Lift

the term "first lift" refers to the initial layer or course of stones that is laid at the base of the wall. It is the first horizontal layer of stones that forms the foundation of the wall. Here are some important points about the first lift in a dry stone wall:

The first lift is crucial for establishing a stable and level foundation for the entire wall. It serves as the base upon which subsequent layers of stones will be built. It helps distribute the weight of the wall evenly and provides a solid footing.

The stones in the first lift are carefully selected and placed to ensure a level and straight base for the wall. They are often adjusted and packed with smaller stones or gravel to achieve a uniform surface. Proper leveling and alignment in the first lift are essential to maintain the structural integrity and stability of the entire wall.

The stones in the first lift are typically chosen for their larger size and shape. They are positioned in a way that they interlock and create interference with each other. This helps prevent the stones from shifting or sliding, ensuring a strong and secure foundation.

The first lift may incorporate techniques to facilitate proper drainage. By placing larger, more porous stones with gaps in between, water can flow through the base of the wall and prevent moisture buildup that could potentially weaken the structure.

Once the first lift is in place and properly leveled, subsequent layers or courses of stones can be added to build the wall upwards. Each subsequent lift follows the same principles of interlocking stones, maintaining levelness, and ensuring structural stability.

It's important to note that the terminology used in dry stone wall construction can vary depending on regional traditions and practices.



Risers

Risers are an essential component in creating a solid and stable dry stone wall. They provide vertical support, interlock the horizontal courses, and contribute to the overall strength and durability of the structure. The specific construction techniques and terminology for risers may vary in different regions and styles of dry stone wall construction. Consulting with experienced dry stone wall builders or referring to local construction guidelines can provide more precise information for a particular region or project.

risers" refers to the vertical stones that are placed between the horizontal courses or lifts of the wall. Risers play a critical role in creating the vertical structure and stability of the wall. Here are some key points about risers in a dry stone wall:

Risers are vertical stones that connect the horizontal courses or lifts of the wall. They serve as load-bearing elements, helping to distribute the weight of the wall evenly and maintain its structural integrity. Risers provide vertical support and prevent the horizontal courses from sagging or shifting over time.

Similar to the horizontal stones, risers are carefully selected and placed to create interlocking joints and promote stability. They are positioned to overlap and interlock with the stones in the adjacent courses, creating a strong connection and preventing the stones from moving independently.

The size and placement of risers can vary depending on the design and construction technique. Risers are typically larger stones compared to the stones in the horizontal courses. They are strategically positioned at regular intervals to maintain the desired height and vertical alignment of the wall.Each riser is individually placed and adjusted to ensure levelness and alignment with the overall wall. Proper leveling and alignment of risers are crucial to maintain the vertical straightness and stability of the wall.While primarily functional, risers also contribute to the visual appeal of a dry stone wall. They add texture, depth, and vertical elements to the overall design. The selection of stones for risers may take into account their shape, color, or texture to create an aesthetically pleasing appearance.


Hearting/ Filler Stone

Hearting" or "filler stone" refers to the smaller stones, gravel, or rubble that are used to fill the gaps or voids within the wall structure. Hearting serves several important functions in the construction of a dry stone wall. Here are some key aspects of hearting or filler stone in a dry stone wall:

As the larger stones are carefully placed to form the visible faces of the wall, gaps or voids naturally occur between them. Hearting stones are used to fill these gaps and ensure a solid and stable structure. The smaller stones are typically irregular in shape and size, allowing them to fit snugly in the voids.

Hearting stones help provide additional support to the wall. By filling the gaps, they help distribute the weight evenly across the wall's surface, reducing the likelihood of movement or settling. Hearting stones contribute to the overall strength and stability of the wall.

Hearting stones interlock with the larger stones and adjacent courses, creating a strong bond within the wall. This interlocking helps prevent the stones from shifting or dislodging over time. The irregular shapes and sizes of the hearting stones contribute to the locking mechanism and enhance the structural integrity of the wall.

Hearting stones can facilitate proper drainage within the wall structure. They create channels for water to flow through, preventing the buildup of moisture that could potentially damage the wall. Additionally, hearting stones allow for ventilation within the wall, promoting airflow and helping to keep the wall dry.

Using hearting stones allows for the efficient use of available resources. Smaller or irregular stones that may not be suitable for the visible faces of the wall can still be utilized in the hearting, reducing waste and making the most of the available materials.

Hearting or filler stone plays a crucial role in the construction of a dry stone wall, providing structural support, interlocking, drainage, and efficient use of resources. The specific techniques and materials used for hearting may vary depending on the regional traditions and construction practices. Consulting with experienced dry stone wall builders or referring to local construction guidelines can provide more precise information for a particular region or project.

Footing/Foundation Stones

The foundation or footing refers to the lowermost part of the wall that provides a stable and level base for the entire structure. The purpose of the foundation in a dry stone wall is to support the weight of the wall, distribute it evenly, and prevent settling or shifting. Here are the key purposes and functions of a foundation in a dry stone wall:

The foundation ensures the stability of the entire wall. It helps distribute the weight of the wall evenly over a larger area, reducing the risk of settling or movement. By providing a solid base, the foundation contributes to the overall structural integrity and durability of the wall.

The foundation transfers the load of the wall to the ground beneath. It supports the weight of the wall and any additional pressures or forces acting on it, such as soil pressure or external loads. A properly designed and constructed foundation can withstand these forces and prevent excessive settlement.

The foundation is constructed to be level, providing a straight and even starting point for the wall. This levelness ensures that subsequent courses of stones can be laid evenly and horizontally, maintaining the overall alignment and vertical straightness of the wall.

The foundation helps prevent erosion beneath the wall. By providing a solid base, it resists the forces of water runoff, preventing the soil beneath from eroding away and compromising the stability of the wall. Adequate drainage measures are often incorporated into the foundation to redirect water away from the wall.

In regions with freezing and thawing cycles, a well-designed foundation helps protect the wall from the damaging effects of frost. By providing a deep and stable base, the foundation minimizes the risk of heaving and movement caused by freeze-thaw cycles in the ground.

A properly constructed foundation significantly increases the lifespan of a dry stone wall. It ensures that the wall remains structurally sound and resistant to settling, shifting, or collapsing over time.

The construction of a solid foundation is essential for the stability, longevity, and overall performance of a dry stone wall. The specific design and construction techniques for foundations may vary depending on factors such as soil conditions, wall height, and regional practices. Consulting with experienced dry stone wall builders or referring to local construction guidelines can provide more precise information for a particular region or project.










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