There’s no denying that wooden fencing is quick and practical – but nothing beats the solid durability and timeless beauty of walling stone to mark out the boundaries of a property. In this blog, we cover the key things you need to consider when choosing and working with walling stone.
Built to last
Stone has been used in walling construction in the UK for many centuries – in fact, the earliest evidence of settlements surrounded by stone walls dates back to well before the Bronze Age. And when the Romans were looking for an effective way to keep the ‘barbarians’ out of their newly conquered lands, the Emperor Hadrian commissioned a gargantuan 73 mile stretch of stone walling and earthworks from coast to coast in Northern England in AD 122. Significant parts of Hadrian’s Wall are still intact today – a clear demonstration of the durability of walling stone.
In more recent history, stone walled gardens were a regular feature of most landed country estates throughout the UK, providing sheltered spots to grow flowers and vegetables.
Walling stone construction
As with the construction of all stone buildings, stone walling needs a good robust foundation – normally of hardcore and concrete set below the frost layer, and wider than the finished wall. This provides a solid base on which to build the walling stone up in layers, held in place by mortar, and capped off with coping stones to protect the structure of the wall from the ravages of rain and frost.
Locally sourced walling stone
Wherever possible, use locally sourced stone – not only will this fit in best with the surrounding buildings and landscape, but it is much more environmentally friendly than using stone that has been quarried far away and transported across the country (or even across the world).
Reclaimed walling stone
If you need walling stone to match your home – or other stone already used on the property – reclaimed stone is often available. Naturally weathered over the centuries, reclaimed stone gives you an aged look straightaway, without having to wait years for nature to take its course.
Newly quarried walling stone
The choice of stone types and textures available today is quite mind-boggling. Here are some examples of the most popular local walling stones used in the areas around Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire:
- Clipsham Limestone – with its warm honey tones, Clipsham limestone is popular for housebuilding and walling stone. It’s also very resilient and long-lasting, being one of the hardest stones available from the Lincolnshire limestone belt.
- Greetham Limestone – paler than its Clipsham neighbour, Greetham limestone provides a cleaner, newer-looking finish to walls and buildings.
- Ironstone – still limestone, but with a distinctive red-brown colour and slight blue veining. It’s found mainly in buildings and walls through parts of Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and into the North Cotswolds.
- Cropped Walling Stone – the rough surfaces give this choice of walling stone a more traditional rugged-looking finish. Grey cropped walling stone is quarried in Northamptonshire, and cream cropped walling stone comes from the Cotswolds.
- Ashlar Walling Stone – with its smooth even facing and regular sizing, Ashlar walling stone is seen in many grander historic buildings.
Stone wall coping
To protect your new stone wall and prevent moisture from penetrating the structure, you’ll need to cap it off. As with the choice of walling stone, there are quite a few different styles and types of wall coping on offer. Here are some of the key options to consider:
- Cock and hen limestone coping – this is where roughly cut stones are placed upright along the top of the wall, creating a rustic look. Its rough edges are quite good for security too!
- Half round limestone coping – this is where stone is cut into semi-circular blocks, which are set into the top of the wall, creating a more streamlined profile.
- Masonry limestone coping – probably the most architectural and neat way to cap a stone wall, these smooth stones can be plain, or carved with intricate detail. An advantage of masonry limestone coping is that it overhangs the structure of the wall, diverting rainwater away from its surfaces.
Whether you’re a latter day Hadrian with a mammoth walling stone project in mind, or just looking for an elegant low wall as a garden feature, contact the experts at Stamford Stone for free advice – and access to a wide range of walling stone and limestone coping products.