Learn to build and repair dry stone walls

This handbook describes how to construct and repair dry stone walls, stone-faced earth banks, retaining walls and other dry stone features. It is intended to be used by conservation volunteers and others interested in learning the skills of dry stone walling. It contains everything you need to know about dry stone walling – the history of walls in the countryside, how to build or restore a dry stone wall, as well as their conservation value. Loads of information about dry stone wall styles and features across the UK and Ireland, and much more. Building with dry stone is one of the earliest skills developed by people, used for building shelters, fortifications, burial mounds, ceremonial structures and animal enclosures. Dry stone walling is so durable because it contains no mortar to crack and fail, but is held together merely by the weight of stone, and by the skill of the builder who selected and fitted the stones together.

What to expect

Dry stone walling subjects

Background info

An illustration of a typical dry stone wall

Loads of background information – dry stone wall history, conservation, dating, the law, flora and fauna, safety, tools and equipment.

Building a wall

Dry stone wall built around a boulder

Clear, step-by-step instructions on all aspects of building a dry stone wall – stone selection, walling procedure, building on slopes, and much more.

Features & furniture

A plan of a dry stone wall corner

Design and construction of wall furniture  and features such as smoots, stiles and gates, cairns, pillars, arches, steps, seats and so on.

Dry Stone Walling: a practical handbook – chapters

The original, printed TCV handbook “Dry Stone Walling, a practical handbook” contained 160 pages. Every one of these pages is included in these digital versions.

A brief introduction to the craft of dry stone walling.

A look at how dry stone walls fit into the landscape, regional walls, history and dating.

The loss of walls and their current condition, their value to wildlife and future.

The rights and obligations of dry stone wall ownership and maintenance.

The important aspects of health and safety while working on dry stone walls.

A general guide to understanding how to choose and source your stone, as well as shaping it.

The design and construction procedures basic to all free standing dry stone walls – from the viewpoint of rebuilding a wall.

A detailed look at some of the more advanced walling techniques required when building walls on slopes, around curves and in other difficult situations.

Retaining walls stabilise terraces, banks and other steep slopes. Stone hedges are free-standing stone-faced earth banks used as boundaries.

Design and construction of wall furniture such as smoots, stiles and gates, and combinations of walls and fences.

Some of the features which can be built out of dry stone. Some traditional, others are more often associated with gardens.

Some of the variations found in walling. Examples of styles found in an area, but do not necessarily define what is ‘typical’ for an area.

Some useful information about walling associations and where to get training and grants.

Studies and surveys are important to further the understanding of walls.

A list of the publications referred to in the text, as well as others relevant to the subject of dry stone walling.

An explanation of some of the terms found in this handbook.

What is in the handbooks?

Step by step

All the processes in the handbooks are explained in easy to follow language, using step-by-step guides that are ideal for all levels.

Clearly Illustrated

Over 2,000 helpful illustrations accompany the text, adding clarity.


The handbooks cover all the topics you need to improve your skills and knowledge.


Written by conservation experts, the handbooks are highly valued by users across the conservation sector.