around the world with a dry stone waller

Sally Hodgson

Enthusiastic, unpretentious, humble, humorous, frank, spirited…these are the words that describe Sally Hodgson’s manner.  Sally gave a talk to the Stone Trust in Dummerston, Vermont on Saturday, May 20th.  Sally holds the Dry Stone Walling Association (DSWA) Master Craftsman Certificate.  She is one of only 3 women ever to have attained Master Craftswomen (Level 4) Certification and she is the only Master Craftswomen still active in walling and the only woman ever to be come a Dry Stone Walling Examiner.

St. Kilda is an isolated archipelago 64 kilometrres west-northwest of North Uist in the North Atlantic. The entire archipelago is owned by the National Trust for Scotland. It is estimated that the population never exceeded 180 inhabitants.

Sally was trained as a textile designer and she alluded to the fact that stone walling and working on a loom have a lot in common.  One of these commonalities is the fact that when creating a tapestry you don’t see the final design until you are finished, which parallels the building of a stone structure.

St Kilda, Scotland. Cleitean are unique stone storage buildings which have survived.

Sally took us a tour of stone buildings around the world.  Her interest is in seeing the diversity of these structures.The only country in the entire world that does not have stone walls…The Netherlands.

The Monastery (Bee Hive Buildings) series of cells. The cells date from early medieval period. Skellig Michael, County Kerry, Ireland.

Broch of Mousa, Scotland.

Istria, Croatia. A kazun (kazun) a traditional dry-stone circular stone building used as a shelperd’s shelter.

Sally showed  so many amazing examples of stone structures.  And just as impressive as these structures was Sally’s devotion to passing on the craft of stone walling.  She lives in Derbyshire.  Sally teaches at the Eco Centre which is the county hub for sustainability learning.  The classes in stone walling, include instruction for special needs individuals, as well as those looking for a new career.

Aran Islands, Ireland

Sally ended her talk with this comment: “The beauty of stone walling is that keeps you on your toes.”


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