The Patient And Artistic Details of Drystack Walling

Materials are really what you make of them, and in an artist’s or master’s hands, the most simple and mundane can become truly extraordinary.  Dry stack stonework (and I am talking about the real stuff – not a veneer glued to a black wall) is both and art and an engineering feat. I am always in awe of people who can create a dry stack stone wall like this. The idea is one thing – but the tremendous patience and attention to detail to create such pieces seems extraordinary. Patience and attention to minute detail are traits I can struggle with.

A student in my Garden design Lab course recently took a dry stone walling course. She doesn’t live near me, so I don’t expect that I can easily attend the same one. Plus I have this fantasy that if I were to learn the basics of this trade, I’d want to take a course in England or Europe because it seems like the best people are there.

Dry Stack Stone Wall Details Inspiration

These amazing shots of detail-oriented dry stone work simply blow me away.

A wall made of rocks.
A stone checkerboard pattern created with dry stone walling techniques. Located in Garachico town center in Tenerife, Spain. Image by bearded_avenger

A stone wall with a circular hole in it.
Dry stack stone wall by Andy Goldsworthy at Tilberthwaite Touchstone Fold. image by Jenny Mackness

These are all taken by RoystonVasey and are of work created by Andy Goldsworthy at Tilberthwaite Touchstone Fold.  If you want to try to find them in person, here are some directions from Royston Vasey on Flickr:

A stone wall with a circle in the middle.
work created by Andy Goldsworthy at Tilberthwaite Touchstone Fold.  If you want to try to find them in person, here are some directions from Royston Vasey: It’s in the Lakes near Coniston. Head north out of town, take your first left (about 2km) up a minor road signposted (I think) to High Tilberthwaite. This is on your right after approx 2km. There is a car park on the left.- image by Jenny Mackness

Happy hunting!

Opposite 1 by RoystonVasey. andy goldsworthy stone wall
Going Up by RoystonVasey. andy goldsworthy stone wall
on the level by andy goldsworthy stone stack

all above images by Royston Vasey

As I consider taking inspiration from these shots, I wonder which of the stone masons I know could create such a thing and being the DIY person that I am, I also consider if I could do this.  The answer to the second question is ‘no’, the first I am still pondering.

Some time ago, the ugly red, blue, and green slate salesman came to New England and made a killing.  I get called to properties using this product often.  The slate is simply too thin to last as a patio surface but I always feel so bad tossing it away.  I think that there might be a second life for it….broken into small pieces and used with regular field stone to make walls inspired by these images.   What inspiration do you take from this work?

REgister now!

A Free Master Class



  1. That wall is phenomenal! It almost acts as a piece of sculpture… it is definitely a work of art! Also wanted to let you know I have listed your blog on my blog roll! I have been enjoying reading through it!

  2. Hi…

    Really…. stone products add special touches to your beautiful home and garden. You can decorate your home and garden with beautiful, natural and imitation stone materials.

  3. Suri says:

    amazing design ..

  4. RoystonVasey says:

    Fantastic set of pictures, I sure do hope RoystonVasey doesn’t mind you using them….

  5. Helen says:

    With a minimal concept, these walls are so strong visually, and are definitely sculpture, not just a wall. Amazing!

  6. ryan says:

    Great looking walls. I don’t think they would be so technically difficult, but definitely show a wonderful vision. They definitely aren’t the most structurally sound walls ever made, which is not a dis on Goldsworthy. He sees his stonework as art and says he likes the ideas of his walls falling down over time. He likes to intentionally break the rules of stonework, such as stacking stones one on one in the top photo and the running joints for visual effect in the last photos. He’s definitely bold and I love looking at his work.
    I’ve used the slate turned vertical as low edging. I’ve been skeptical of it stacked too high on the horizontal because it starts to crack from the weight of the stone above it. It can look really good with the courses stacked herringbone, though I’ve never done it, and apparently the walls can last a long time that way.

  7. Peter says:

    another beautiful work of Andy Goldsworthy, in London:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Does Your Garden Need a Makeover?

Learn my 7-step system to design and build a stunning garden anywhere in the world.


Join my Free Class!

Understand the 5 mistakes everyone makes when creating a garden. (Save yourself time, money, & headaches and get much better results!)

See how to work directly with me (but at a DIY price!) to
design and create your own gorgeous garden.