The following is adapted from an article in "Stonechat 12"
Originally conceived as a National Exhibit the Yorkshire Exhibit of Dry Stone Walling on the Shibden Estate near Halifax is well worth a visit.
Shibden literally "valley of the sheep" is a 37 acre estate owned and run by Calderdale Council. It includes Shibden Hall, a Grade II* listed timber framed hall Built c1420, . It is now a museum. There is an ongoing project to restore the grounds and landscape
Within these grounds can be found the walling exhibit, designed by David Griffiths and described the West Yorkshire Branch section of the DSWA website as "a permanent and unique exhibit to exemplify all the skills of the Master Craftsman dry stone waller and to reflect the social relevance and cultural importance of the craft in its local and national context".
Two spectacular conical pillars mark the top entrance to the exhibit, and two closely dressed square-topped pillars at the lower end. From the lower end the wall starts off with an immaculate ly coursed "estate wall". A path leads past a series of stiles and lunkies (sheep holes) with the walling becoming a less formal random field wall as the stone subtly varies (as does the level of workmanship - quite deliberately).
The sloping nature of the site is utilised to incorporate "climbing" walls and retaining walls with a part free-standing, part retaining wall, circular sheepfold (just visible behind entance background of both photos) with five wide projecting throughstones acting as seats so that individuals small groups or families can pause and soak in their surroundings.
A further path passes a series of pieces of wall showing a wall during its various phases of construction.
Phase 1 was opened on 29th March 2003 by Her Grace the Duchess of Devonshire, then patron of DSWA. The second phase is well into the planning stage and will include the extension of the main wall through a series panels akin to the DSWA`s Millenium Wall at the National Stone Centre, Wirksworth Derbyshire www.dswa.org.uk/millennium_frames.htm
Showing the variation in stone size and shape throughout Yorkshire. It will also include sections to show bee-boles (niches built into a wall to take bee skeps ), a smoots (smaller holes than lunkies, for animals etc. to pass through a wall), and a seat panel, with penty of projecting throughstones on which to take a rest.
There is now a section of wall and pile of stone for training purposes, and with the variety of features and styles the site is already an excellent training resource that will be second to none (if not already) when phase 2 is complete
Made possible with £30300 from the National Lottery Good causes, Johnsons Wellfield Quarries who donated. More support came from the Community Foundation for Calderdale, the Halifax Bank and ABG Ltd, not to mention the many hundreds of volunteer builder man-hours. It remains largely a well kept secret, yet it is a resource that the DSWA should be trumpeting. Brilliant in concept design and execution don`t miss it, just off the A58 on western edge of Halifax, signposted Shibden Hall.