This project was awarded  Sustainable Development Fund support in 2017/18 and 2019/20 to help deliver our Management Plan Policy 9.2 ‘Exploring, understanding, engaging’ in particular 9.2.4 – supporting volunteers actively engaged in the conservation and enhancement of the Dorset AONB landscape.

The Dorset branch of the Dry Stone Walling Association aim to contribute to the preservation of these much cherished heritage features through their repair and maintenance and key to this is member training.


  • SDF grant awarded: £1500
  • Match funding: £4150
  • % of total funding awarded: 35%


  • SDF grant awarded: 1500
  • Match funding: £5110
  • % of total funding awarded: 18%

The Dry Stone Walling Association in Dorset aims to encourage interest in the repair and preservation of our precious dry-stone walls across the county.

They run many courses and events throughout the year including beginners courses, demonstrations at shows and hold members practice weekends. Crucially they also offer the opportunity for members to undertake exam qualifications to ensure members acquire the correct level of skill to build walls and deliver a finished construction that is safe, long-lasting and visually attractive.

As well as being very proud to run the only exam site in the South of England, they are proud of their members who give their time freely to re-build walls in places which are of environmental or ecological significance e.g. along the South Dorset Ridgeway (Gould’s Hill) and Langton Matravers (near Dancing Ledge).

Dry stone wall volunteer

They have received grants from our SDF fund towards:

Training: in particular training members to pass instructor exams so they can teach courses and also train other members wishing to upskill and become instructors themselves. This enables the branch to become better skilled and self-sustaining.

Stone: the cost of the stone required for the exam walls at Tyneham. There are 2 exam walls specifically built to be taken down and re-built for certification either at level 1, which involves a straight ‘gap’ of 2.5 sq. metres or level 2, where the cheek-end is included. This is done in a period of 7 hours and each stage of the process is marked and must be passed.

Re-location of the exam site: from Durlston Country Park to Tyneham – where facilities for training and examinations would be more suitable.

A finished wall

In 2017/2018

  • Stone was acquired and sorted for the exam wall
  • 2 members undertook Instructor training in Cumbria and assessment
  • 5 members undertook level 2 training and passed the examination

In 2018/2019

  • 2 members sorted out the stone and completed the walls at the new exam site in Tyneham
  • 4 members took and passed level 1
  • 2 members took and passed level 2
  • 1 member undertook level 3 exam training in Cumbria and will be examined in 2020
Exam day at Tyneham, 2019

Knowledge is key to the preservation of this ancient art

Our SDF Funding is helping to conserve and future proof this ancient traditional for generations to come.

Training has increased the group’s skill set, expertise and confidence. This leads to members feeling more valued, more likely to continue the practise and thus to go out on site more often.

In turn this is beneficial as their expertise means they can independently take charge of tasks, leading to more working days on site and more miles of restoration of Dorset’s precious ancient dry-stone walls.

Successful candidates, helpers and examiners 2019

In 2017/18 25 different participants came out at least 1 day, 3 did between 15-20 days and 1 enthusiastic participated in 30 days of walling!

In 2018/19 23 different members in 2019 contributed 257 person days on site.

  • They have built up a pool of 6 instructors in Dorset – 2 of whom were trained in 2019 through SDF grant funding. Essential due to retirement of some members.
  • The new site at Tyneham is attracting a lot of interest from passing walkers which is helping to promote and educated members of the public about this ancient craft and attract members.
  • In 2020 they successfully finished the Goulds Hill project (on the South Dorset Ridgeway), a total of approx. 400 metres re-built over 5 years.
c. Sally Fielding

‘SDF support has helped to make our branch a thriving, skilled group that can undertake important and challenging tasks that will enhance the landscape for years to come.’

Sally Fielding (Branch Secretary)