Dry Stone Walling and Writing

with Whitney Brown & Owen Sheers

Join dry-stone waller, author, and folklorist Whitney Brown for two days of gapping out in the hills of Mid Wales. “Gapping” refers to the repair of small collapses in field walls, and it is a task that has long been the waller’s bread and butter (as well as the farmer’s headache when it comes to keeping sheep and cattle in their place!). As we strip out and then mend the collapsed sections of wall, participants will have an opportunity to explore the social and geological history of dry-stone walls, as well as their physical construction and their role in agriculture. We may find toads or newts in the wall alongside fossils, pottery shards, or antique rubbish—and we will certainly see birds and mosses and lichens. Walls can be both ecosystem and historical repository, but more than anything else, they must be stockproof. This is an ancient skill, and a deeply satisfying one. As Whitney sees it, there is no better way to enjoy the beauty of the Welsh hills than to put in a bit of hard graft to help preserve a small part of the thousands of miles of dry-stone walls that criss-cross the countryside.

Participants will need to be reasonably physically fit, as they will gain hands-on experience building with stone. We will walk the fields in and out to our worksite each day and enjoy picnic lunches along with plenty of breaks for tea and biscuits. There will also be ample time to talk about our experience of nature and work, and how best to capture that on the page.

Writer Owen Sheers will join the group for one of the evening sessions for discussions around the nature of craft and landscape and the role of humans and nature in creating each.

DATES: 27th & 28th August 2019
ARRIVE: 5pm 26th August
DEPART: 5pm 28th August
PRICE: £425
RESIDENTIAL: Coleg Trefeca …more info

Whitney Brown

Whitney Brown

Whitney Brown is a dry-stone waller and writer based in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Originally from South Carolina, she holds a master’s in Folklore from the University of North Carolina. She first visited Wales in 2009 to begin her training in both walling and blacksmithing, and she returns as often as she can. In addition to running her own stone business, she works as both a folklorist and a heavy equipment operator (yes, you read that correctly!) for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Her first book, “Between Stone and Sky”, was published by Constable in 2018.

Owen Sheers

Owen Sheers

Owen Sheers is a poet, playwright and novelist known for his poetry set in the Black Mountains, his novels Resistance and I SAW A MAN and his work for television such as the BAFTA nominated ‘The Green Hollow’ commemorating the disaster at Aberfan.

Dry Stone Walling and Writing

with Whitney Brown & Owen Sheers

Arrive 5pm August 26
Depart 5pm August 28