In Which We Visit The Neo-Lithic

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

People are all aflutter demanding that the governments around the world step in and do something, anything, about the eventual end of oil and fossil fuels. It reminds me of the old saying,

The Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of stones!

However, now that I’m in the Lake District in England, I’ve had to revise that saying, because around here, near as I can tell the Stone Age never officially ended at all. Oh, not the people, they’re as modern as any … but they use stone everything. Now I was expecting stone houses … and I’d heard of (but never seen) stone roofs. Both of those they have aplenty.

stone house lakeland

But I wasn’t prepared for stone gateposts …

stone gatepost lakeland

And while I’ve seen many stone fences in my time, they were always made of stones piled one atop the other. They have lots of those kinds of fences in the Lake District, but also another kind I’d not seen. These are made of single flat stone slabs stood on edge.

stone fence lakeland

I didn’t inquire closely as to how the folks living in the stone houses with the stone fences and stone roofs might have constructed their beds and their toilets, that seemed a bridge too far, and I was afraid of what might be revealed ..

We’ve spent the night in Hawkshead, for no apparent reason other than that the YHA Youth Hostel here has the best rates in the area. And since the gorgeous ex-fiancee and I are both in our middle youth, it worked out fine.

As many people have claimed, the scenery here in the Lake District is gorgeous, and Hawkshead is no exception.

lake and lambs

It’s one of the spots for which the term “bucolic” might have been invented.

Hawkshead is in the Beatrix Potter country, and the William Wordsworth country, and man, they don’t want you to forget either one. I guess Peter Rabbit must be big in Japan, because there were a couple of busloads of Japanese tourists at her house in Near Sawrey, and all the Beatrix Potter Official Stockist shops had Japanese translations on their signs.  And Wordsworth’s name pops up everywhere, unfortunately sometimes to the detriment of what is assuredly a more interesting and recondite history:

wordsworth street sign lakeland

The town has a lovely church which we visited and admired, but the folks here say it’s not that old, it only dates from the 1500s … bummer. Despite that disappointment, I did find Herman Melville’s dale that I mentioned in my last post, and I did follow it down to the lake as Melville said:

melvilles dale in the lakes

In this case, the lake was Lake Windermere, one lake over from the lake pictured above. From the number of sailboats I assume Windermere means “Windy Lake”, so I’m probably wrong about that, folk etymology being what it is … but windy or not, it is one of the most scenic lakes it’s been my pleasure to behold.

lake windermere

The turf around here is all clearly marked by the glaciers of the last Ice Age, with the characteristic rounded valleys and the hills sometimes scraped clean of dirt down to the bone. The glaciers make for a lovely soft kind of landscape, with all of the sharp points ground smooth.

On the northeast side of lake Windermere there’s a charming forest that runs along the lake. In one section there was no undergrowth, just acres of ferns …

lake windermere fern forest

Strangely, between the forest and the lake there’s also a place which is a caravan park with permanent residents, called “Strawberry Garden”. It’s in one of the world’s prettiest locations, right on the waterfront. Of course, it’s all marked

PRIVATE

This site is privately occupied by long term caravan owners.

THERE IS NO PUBLIC ACCESS

Here’s a shot of it from over the fence … a stone fence, as you might imagine …

lake windermere caravan park

Why did I find this strange?

Well, the site is owned, not by a private individual or a company, but by the National Trust. Says so right on the other sign:

THE NATIONAL TRUST

STRAWBERRY GARDEN

PRIVATE — Access to caravan site and cottages only.

NO UNAUTHORISED ENTRY

It has the National Trust logo on it and everything … I was gobsmacked. The National Trust is in the business of providing stupendous caravan spaces to the fortunate few, while the public is kept out entirely? How does that work? Gotta be some history there I’m unaware of.

We walked a couple of miles along Lake Windermere. It was absolutely stunning. My thanks to all who recommended the Lake District, our time here has been great. The only downside are the roads. Typically, the roads around this area are about one and seven-sixteenths car widths from side to side … in the wide parts … and there are always stone walls on both verges, which tend to focus one’s attention mightily. Add bicyclists and walkers and the odd horse or two, and it’s a Disneyland E-Ticket ride, except with real hazards.

Tomorrow we’re going to see Hadrian’s Wall, and then up into Scotland. The adventure continues. My thanks to everyone for their texts and comments. Unfortunately there are far too many to acknowledge individually, but I do read and appreciate them all. We’re headed for the land of haggis and sporrans, should be fun.

Best regards,

w.

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112 thoughts on “In Which We Visit The Neo-Lithic

  1. In addition to her talents as an artist and land preserver, Beatrix Potter was quite the mycologist.
    See http://www.anbg.gov.au/fungi/case-studies/beatrix-potter.html and http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/24954/title/Beatrix-Potter–scientist/
    My wife is a nut about Peter Rabbit and the Lake District. I humored my wife by looking over a biography and stumbled on her work in mycology. I’m a nut about mycology so we discovered another topic of great interest we could share.

  2. Hey Willis….welcome to Blighty. Its quite amusing to see things we take for granted being seen as ‘odd’……..you don’t have stone/slate tiles over in the ‘States? I did not know that. Enjoy your stay mate.

  3. Had to chuckle at the neolithic reference. And yes, I did once stay in a cottage there with a stone bed! Luckily it had a soft mattress…
    Good thing you did not go to the far west of Cornwall where the roads are one and three sixteenths of a car wide, with stone walls and mad locals who drive down them at 60 miles an hour.
    About 99% of National Trust properties are open to the public, but about 1% are holiday homes let out in order to generate a bit of extra income. You were just unlucky to have come across part of that 1%. Generally they are a serious force for good. Most of our coast would be inaccessible if it were not for the national trust owned coastal paths.
    Hadrian’s wall is a good choice. I walked it as a teenager staying in Youth Hostels along the way. Scotland is a very different place from England. Apart from the populated central belt it is much more sparsely populated with fewer roads. Less pretty but more dramatic. Have fun!

  4. Willis I think you will find that the ‘stone fences’ are called ‘walls’. They vary from region to region and are usually built with no cement. a technique known as ‘dry stone walling’ The sky looks an odd colour by the way, it should be grey.

  5. Ah, I was hoping you’d make it to the Lake District. Stunningly beautiful country and, if you’re a motorcyclist, stunningly entertaining roads. I have fond memories of the area.

  6. Beatrix Potter is big in Japan as are the “Thomas the Tank Engine” children’s stories. Hawkshead has some shop signs in part Japanese.
    It may be worth a trip to Vindolanda when you get to the Wall.
    You should have tried going over Wrynose and Hardknott passes for narrow and steep roads. Honister reaches gradients of 1 in 3 (used to be 1 in 2.5 at one time). Its fun at sixty but make sure the brakes don’t get too hot going downhill. You often need to “handbrake” slide through the passing places – mostly single track.
    If you find sheep on the road call out “mint sauce”

  7. Our house in Norfolk Virginia (built in 1916) had originally had a slate roof, and my grandparents’ house in New Jersey, built in the 30s, still had the original slate roofing when we sold it in the 80s. Slate isn’t cheap, and it’s heavy, but with minimal upkeep it lasts forever.
    If you really want to see rocks, visit the west coast of Ireland. I can remember driving through County Clare and going by field after field with rock walls. It was easy to see where the rocks came from; as far as we could tell the fields themselves were solid rock with only a few lonely blades of grass per acre, making you wonder why they bothered.

  8. TLM:
    You say to Willis

    Good thing you did not go to the far west of Cornwall where the roads are one and three sixteenths of a car wide, with stone walls and mad locals who drive down them at 60 miles an hour.

    You exaggerate. We only go that fast in the winter when the tourists are not in the way.
    Richard

  9. Hi Willes,
    Thanks for the great stories. Every evening I am checking WUWT in anticipation of another one.
    While in Scotland try to visit the Falkirk Wheel, a modern way to raising and lowering boats.
    And I would love to read what you think about Mary Kings close of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh.

  10. Lake Windermere …. it is actually just Windermere. I believe it’s Old English. Mere – mare. Sabe?
    Regarding use of stone. It is a Stone Age second coming. Cut down all the trees then graze like heck. That’s where you end up.
    One other thing besides stone buildings around … there is of course the extensive Arts and Crafts stuff … am I in Bo’ness or Palo Alto? LOL!

  11. If you are limited for time at Hadrians Wall, go to Housesteads fort, with its stone ‘comfort station’, and Vindolanda which was a Roman army supply camp. They are both close to each other. Vindolanda has a reconstruction of what the wall looked like, and some wonderful items excavated from the site, including wooden ‘postcards’ that give a real idea of what the Romans thought.
    It is a joy to read your impressions of our country. Thank you so much.

  12. I really like your travel stories Willis. It appears to be true that a good observer makes a good skeptic. I was myself in the south this year near Bath and I did also notice the crazy small country roads and speed of driving of the locals. Apparently there are not so many roads at all and only a few highways, which makes for too much people with a relative far destination on small roads. I think the amount of privately owned property is a reason for that, at least in comparison to my country, the Netherlands. But well that is easy said as we have hardly natural stones so no stone walls around our roads too.

  13. Dear Willis
    gald you are enjoying your tour. People will use the nearest and cheapest materials to hand. In the West Country mud was available so people built with cob ( earth) which is one of the most enviro friendly and themally efficient construction methods. Cob needs to be kep slightly moist. unfortunately weekend Londoners install central heating and then wonder why their gable wall has collpased. But it does make the loveliest choclate box cottages.
    After that people used stone. Dig a hole, quarry it,build with it. It was the railways and mass production of brick and slate that led to the constuction of the majority of the buildings in the UK.
    In North America and Scandinavia timber is abundant. The majority of your early bridges were timber or trestle timber. It is one of my admirations of the American method of construction. Need an extension? A few joists and planks and you have a new room in a couple of days as opposed to the British method of bricks, cement etc and a couple of months. The British love brick and tend to hide timber frame buildings leading to maintenance problems. I regret to say I could write a long monograph on this topic but Mr Watts would probably ban me for boredom.
    Just to finsih if you do see stone roofs on your travels the traditional method to attaching the slates is with wooden pegs to the battens. You will also notice that small slates are at the top and the largers stone slates are at the bottom. 1- There is more water flow at the base of the roof and 2 you only want to haul small slates to the top of the roof and not lug large heavy stones.
    P.S. Scottish weather is very like English weather but with midges 🙂

  14. This from the English wit Pam Ayres some years ago:
    I am a drystone waller,
    All day long I drystone wall,
    Of all appalling callings,
    Drystone walling’s worst of all. 🙂

  15. Willis, you are on my old stamping ground. The west end of the wall is not so obvious to see so I would recommend you follow the A69 east till it connects with the A68 then go north to Scotland that way. It will allow you to see Housesteads (Roman Fort) and the most photographed and geologically interesting part of the wall.

  16. To Richards Courtney
    Ahh. Cornish lanes with the green mohican of grass down the middle. You may drive at 60 in the winters otherwise it is 4 mph with a tractor ( who have the courtesy to occasionally pull over) as opposed to the grockles with caravans who cannot see a 2 mile queue behind them.
    Roman roads – straight and effiicient
    Anglo Saxon Roads – winding and presumably built before and whilst consuming beer, cider and mead.

  17. You probably won’t have time but the Moray Firth is well worth a visit (as is most of the rest of Scotland to be honest.

  18. Before the Roman came to Rye or out to Severn strode,
    The rolling English drunkard made the rolling English road.
    A reeling road, a rolling road, that rambles round the shire,
    And after him the parson ran, the sexton and the squire;
    A merry road, a mazy road, and such as we did tread
    The night we went to Birmingham by way of Beachy Head.
    I knew no harm of Bonaparte and plenty of the Squire,
    And for to fight the Frenchman I did not much desire;
    But I did bash their baggonets because they came arrayed
    To straighten out the crooked road an English drunkard made,
    Where you and I went down the lane with ale-mugs in our hands,
    The night we went to Glastonbury by way of Goodwin Sands.
    His sins they were forgiven him; or why do flowers run
    Behind him; and the hedges all strengthening in the sun?
    The wild thing went from left to right and knew not which was which,
    But the wild rose was above him when they found him in the ditch.
    God pardon us, nor harden us; we did not see so clear
    The night we went to Bannockburn by way of Brighton Pier.
    My friends, we will not go again or ape an ancient rage,
    Or stretch the folly of our youth to be the shame of age,
    But walk with clearer eyes and ears this path that wandereth,
    And see undrugged in evening light the decent inn of death;
    For there is good news yet to hear and fine things to be seen,
    Before we go to Paradise by way of Kensal Green.

  19. “But I wasn’t prepared for stone gateposts …”
    You know what they use to attach gates to stone gateposts?
    Stonehenges.

  20. Enjoy Hadrian’s wall, if you get the time there are some good castles dotted around the general area of the wall, Aydon castle near For bridge and Belsay castle to the north east of the wall spring to mind.

  21. Oh, and Durham with its cathederal , castle and river are well worth a visit if you get that far east 🙂

  22. “Before we go to Paradise by way of Kensal Green” – a subtle joke by G K Chesterton, a North Londoner, since Kensal Geen was (and is) a great North London cemetry.

  23. Willis.
    Vindolandia would be a great location on the wall to visit. It is possible to get a real taste of Roman life from the letters that were sent back and forth.
    “The fort of Vindolanda was one of the earliest Roman garrisons, and even older than Hadrian’s Wall. Most of the letters, or writing tablets, date from this time (AD 97–103).
    The letters enable us to picture community life. We can inspect official correspondence which demonstrated the army’s efficiency, work assignments, the soldiers’ diet and what they did in their time off.
    Incoming mail (tablet 346) is also revealing: ‘I have sent you … pairs of socks from Sattua, two pairs of sandals and two pairs of underpants.’ It was obviously a bit cold for soldiers on the north-west frontier of the Roman Empire.
    In one letter (tablet 291) Claudia Severa invites Sulpicia Lepidina to her birthday party:
    Claudia Severa to her Lepidina greetings. On 11 September, sister, for the day of the celebration of my birthday, I give you a warm invitation to make sure that you come to us, to make the day more enjoyable for me by your arrival… I shall expect you, sister. Farewell, sister, my dearest soul, as I hope to prosper, and hail.”
    http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/scotlandshistory/caledonianspictsromans/vindolandaletters/index.asp
    http://www.vindolanda.com/
    tonyb

  24. Hi Willis
    In the UK every region used to use its local materials for building houses. Thames Valley – clay,ergo bricks. The Cotswold Hills (Gloucestershire, where I grew up) limestones and oolitic limestone roofing tiles, often massive. Wood – historically used for building wagons etc, not houses, or in the case of oak, ships. Unauthorised cutting down of an oak tree was once a capital offence in Sweden.
    The use of stone walls to demarcate fields comes from the need to clear the stones from agricultural areas. I most noticed this in Coatia where the walls can be 12 foot thick. There was never any economic incentive to take them elsewhere, so they just built walls!

  25. LOL for I too thought of GK Chesterton and the rolling roads. Potter was a heroine of mine. Scientist and artist, farmer and sheep breeder and passionate defender of her heritage, natural and manmade.

  26. Wilis,
    stone is still `in` slightly due to the fact it decays at a very slow rate, as an engineer iys a very handy substance, the `larder` always had a slate shelf in it to keep things real cool, the house I have just finished building (with lots of granite parrapets and gateposts, and steps, and slate) will be good for a few hundred years I hope, The stone tunnel I`ve also just built, complete with granite spiral staircase, from first principles is well worth a visit if you end up in devon

  27. Willis,
    If you do manage some time in Scotland then you should drive up ‘The Great Glen’ from Fort William past Loch Ness and the ‘monster’ to Inverness . Just East of Inverness is the museum for the Battle of Culloden which was between the Catholics and Highlanders and the Protestants and Lowlanders, which you may find interesting. Go a little further East into Speyside and you can follow ‘The Whisky Trail’ which is a signed tour of the Scots Whisky distilleries. At each they will not only show you around but allow you to have a sample.
    Of course you could go North of ‘The Great Glen’ and into Sutherland (Southern Land) and Caithness (The Kingdom of Cait) which was settled from the North. The two counties suffered considerably in ‘The Clearances’ when tenant farmers and crofters were thrown off the land to allow the Lairds to try to farm sheep. You can still see the stone foundations of cottages in villages that were razed by fire. It is because of ‘The Clearances’ that there are so many ex-patriot Scot’s communities in Canada and the East Coast of the USA. Many of the scots worked as engineers on the new steam ships – possibly the reason that the engineer on Star Trek’s Starship Enterprise was Scots.

  28. I expect those caravans are Gypsies, and they are accomodated on public land to keep them from squatting in other locations.

  29. Not a great weather forecast for tomorrow Willis – with a bit of luck the mist will be down and will hide from your eyes the miles and miles of wind farms between the border and the Scottish central belt. We still (for the time being) have a beautiful country up here, although idiot politicians and those with their snouts in the subsidy trough are working hard to change that.

  30. Oh – and those stone walls are called ‘dykes’ in Scotland. You won’t upset anyone if you say you ran into a dyke on your way north. Except maybe the local farmer.

  31. Glad you are enjoying yourself. Hawkshead is a lovely place but you haven’t mentioned one of the most important things there….The Pubs! Enjoy some English beer whilst you are here.

  32. The mention of ‘Hardknot Pass’ brought back memories of holidaying in the Lake District with my parents in the 1970’s.
    We got stuck behind another motorist on an icy bend on the 1:3 section while travelling in my dads Austin Allegro (or “All Agro” as it was colloquially known). Unfortunately the only way my dad could get going again was to decamp all the family, including suitcases and we had to walk uphill carrying the suitcases. It didn’t take long before some witty walker shouted “you’ld find it easier using a rucksack mate”!

  33. Ian W says:
    September 10, 2013 at 12:19 pm
    Lowland Scots (also Highland, English & Irish) served on both sides at Culloden. The Jacobite army of that twit “Bonnie Prince Charlie” Stuart consisted mainly of Highlanders, but also a some Lowlanders & a small detachment of Englishmen from the Manchester Regiment. The Jacobites were supported & supplied by France, so French & Irish units augmented their army.
    The British royal (pro-Hanoverian) forces were mostly English Redcoats, along with a significant number of Scottish Lowlanders & Highlanders, a battalion of Ulstermen & some Hessians & Austrians.

  34. Enjoy Scotland, Willis, and remember to go on the Jacobite railway and stay on Seil Island (Innish B&B) visiting the Oyster Bar at Ellenabeich and the Slate Islands Heritage Centre (Jim Watson there will give you the history). If you can take a trip from there, or nearby Ardfern, to the Corryvreckan – do it!
    http://www.westcoastrailways.co.uk/jacobite/Jacobite_Details.html
    http://www.slateislands.org.uk/centre.html
    http://www.whirlpool-scotland.co.uk/how.html (Easdale is near Ellenabeich)
    http://www.venture-west.co.uk/boat-trips/corryvreckan

  35. Willis,
    “I didn’t inquire closely as to how the folks living in the stone houses with the stone fences and stone roofs might have constructed their beds and their toilets, that seemed a bridge too far”
    I can’t speak for the UK, but in the US the typical home toilet is made of porcelain which is sort of a kind of man made stone. 🙂

  36. If/When you ever get around to visiting Wales, you will need to visit the slate mines — the source of those stone roofs.
    Perhaps you are starting to get an inkling of why UK ex-pats look at American houses and just don’t understand why anyone would live in, let alone build structures that any random passing wolf could huff and puff put of existence.

  37. Western Kansas is thick with stone fence-posts, stone gate-posts, & stone buildings. Has something to do with the scarcity of trees (besides cottonwoods in the river bottoms, which are almost as useful as Bill Cosby’s Pudding Pops for lumber) & all the limestone underlying the great plains. Until you have cheap transport or a good brick industry you have to make do with what you have.

  38. Willis your observations on ‘Strawberry Garden’ are so, so sharp. Most UK residents will not even know what disgrace the National Trust is as an organisation. In fact many millions in the UK proudly place National Trust stickers on their cars oblivious to the brutality and disregard this organisations shows to both its tenants and the wildlife that is unfortunate to roam the vast acres it ‘manages’. Speak to any farmer who rents land from this bunch of ‘progressive’ left wing green-shirts and they will tell you they are the very worst kind of landlord you could imagine. The NT are of course very happy to despoil the National Parks of the UK with bird killing crucifixes called wind turbines, but try having a family BBQ on one of their beaches and their lawyers will have a field day.
    You may already know this but most of the land they ‘occupy’ was either donated by landowners or ‘grabbed’ by the UK government in lieu of stupendous taxes the land owners could not pay. They then charge for the right to access this land. I have cycled past the beautiful Strawberry Gardens many times and like you wondered why the land, that is effectively owned by the state, is out of bounds even though the NT is the most vocal when is comes to access to private land and demands the ‘right to roam’ over other peoples property. The liberals are well and truly in the NT machine.
    It’s bad in the UK, but the US is even worse I think. I was charged USD 15 recently just to access the Lake Mead National Park this year. I am happy to pay parking fees or access to an historic property, but to drive through government owned land for 30 minutes to see what is really a man made money making lake is quite a disgrace. Strawberry Gardens may be a lot lot smaller than Lake Mead but the problem is just the same – governments that want to steal land and charge us, or prevent us, from accessing it.

  39. There are some rather wonderful children’s books set in the Lakes which feature quite young children sailing on their own.
    The 1st book has a telegraphic reply from Father to a request to sail alone with the famous quote ‘BETTER DROWNED THAN DUFFERS IF NOT DUFFERS WONT DROWN’

  40. Richard, I think a lot of us actually know how useless the National Trust really is. They have long forgotten what they should be there for! In Berkshire there’s a hill behind Streatley where you ‘could’ picnic (that has great views). However, the NT (instead of using a tractor to cut the grass) allow the nearby farmer to graze his cattle there to ‘cut’ the grass. Hence the entire area is covered in cow pats. We quite literally couldn’t lay a blanket down anywhere without some of it touching a cow pat! The National Trust are a waste of space, far more interested in wasting money on huge country mansions and adding a gift shop to the exits – full of green NT tat.

  41. “Oh – and those stone walls are called ‘dykes’ in Scotland. You won’t upset anyone if you say you ran into a dyke on your way north. Except maybe the local farmer.”
    You might upset me. “Dykes” are ditches in Nottinghamshire (and “bonnie” means plump or fat, not necessarily beautiful).

  42. The Lake District (and Cornwall) are not the only parts of Britain with narrow lanes and stone gateposts. On Dartmoor where I live lots of us – including me – have stone gateposts (chunks of granite around here) and the lanes are frequently only one and one sixteenth car’s width wide. To get home I come down a lane with grass in the middle, vegetation that brushes both sides of the car, and occasionally long brambles that drape down from the sides and brush the top of the car, or scratch you if you leave a window open. It’s not usually the locals that cause problems here, it’s the tourists (grockles) and those who can’t or won’t back up when you meet in a narrow spot.
    Still, it’s what makes the character of the place and keeps it relatively peaceful. I love it.
    It’s great to read your impressions of Britain – enjoy the rest of your trip and keep the articles coming!.

  43. Willis, it’s also worth a side trip from Glasgow to Mallaig on the train (leaves about 6 am), with a B&B in Mallaig and fish and chips. My wife and I did that ten years ago. I did a research project in Geology on the Isle of Skye, opposite Mallaig, fifty years ago, as well as taking the McBraynes steamer to the outer Hebrides. That train ride is the best scenery in Britain, and the railway goes over the viaduct immortalized in Harry Potter, Hogwarts films.

  44. Hi heather
    I’m from teignmouth. Which part of dartmoor are you from. If Willis had headed down our way I had offered to take him to grimspound and the medieval village at hound tor.
    Tonyb

  45. The Ghost of Big Jim Cooley says:
    September 10, 2013 at 2:12 pm
    When I said ‘most’ I was of course excluding the enlightened few such as your good self!

  46. Mr E., to my shame, I am tardy in my reading of your journal, so you will have missed the Tower Ballroom (as well as Chester, Glasson Dock, Lancaster – oh, the list is endless!). To revisit the Lakes, read Swallows and Amazons, by Arthur Ransome.
    You are beginning to learn some of the eccentricities of these islands: the New Forest is 500 years old and is, er, not a forest; neither is the Forest of Bowland. The Lake District has no lakes – they are all Tarns, Meres or Waters (and Wastwater is perhaps the most beautiful, spooky, stark and eerie of all). Also, the Peak District has few peaks, and “the North” starts around the middle (the old joke is that, for Londoners, “the Norf” starts at Watford; for northerners, “the Sarf” starts at Watford Gap. What’s between is the Midlands.)
    I am sure you will have noticed the regional rivalry – if not yet, then Scotland will certainly help you, there! And it is a fractal phenomenon.

  47. Willis, if you had time for a detour to Belfast (my home town) you’d see that the National Trust also own pubs….
    http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/crown-bar/
    It’s still lit by gas! Directly across from the Europa Hotel “The Most Bombed Hotel In Europe”!
    What’s your schedule in Scotland?
    If/when you come to Edinburgh, I’ve recommended a bus tour before but it’s probably worth doing the free walking tour of the Old Town too. I haven’t done it but from the web site it looks like the best one in town and it’ll give a good background to Edinburgh’s history.
    Mary King’s close was a plague street that got walled in, then over, then built on top of. The tour’s good but probably pricy and I haven’t done it in a while but it’s so unusual it’s worth considering.
    The Scott Monument on Pinces Street is probably worth climbing, it’s cheap to get in then will give a good view of the city. (I have tried to get in a couple of times but it closes early in the winter which keeps thwarting me). A walk up Calton hill will give a good view, as will a hike up Arthur’s Seat (but this is an afternoon’s jaunt).
    When you’re in town keep an ear out for the 1 o’clock gun, and the ball which is supposedly dropped from Nelson’s monument on Calton hill (Nelson’s monument is supposed do be in inverted telescope). I’ve been here 13 years and still haven’t managed to catch this, although I’m not sure it happens every day.
    Museum wise, the National Museum of Scotland can be good, if even for a break from the rain and a cup of tea (I do hope you’re drinking tea while over here). At the top of Chamber St (where the museum is) is Greyfriar’s Kirk, where Greyfriar’s Bobby is supposedly buried. Apparently this is story’s a load of balearics made up to impress tourists, but there’s a pub beside the church/statue. The National Gallery of Scotland is on Princes Street and currently had Rodin’s “The Kiss” as well as a lod of impressive big paintings and other stuff! (All thr museums are free in so worth a quick wander).
    There are plenty of good pubs about but if you want something very out of the ordinary I’d recommend The Canny Man’s in Morningside. It’s a taxi from the center of town but you and you ladies should all appreciate its quirkiness.
    On that note if your girls want a bit of shopping then set them loose down George St, if you feel you want you wallet significantly lightened let them loose in Harvey Nichols on St Andrew’s square.
    If you’re eating out there are a lot of good restaurants in town but if you want something tasty and good value for money I’d recommend Hannedan’s
    http://www.hanedan.co.uk/
    Again a taxi from the center of town, but only a couple of miles so easily walkable at this time of
    year.
    I’ll wrack my brains for more suggestions. Possibly more tomorrow.
    Nial

  48. ” might have constructed their beds
    In Penrhyn Castle, Wales there is a four-poster bed carved from one single block of slate. utterly surprising is the fact that it is on castors. It was carved for the visit, to the grand house, of Queen Victoria who, on seeing it, refused to sleep in it – declaring it to be reminiscent of a mausoleum. So, yes, at least one stone bed exists.

  49. Radical Rodent:
    In your post at September 10, 2013 at 2:55 pm you say

    I am sure you will have noticed the regional rivalry – if not yet, then Scotland will certainly help you, there! And it is a fractal phenomenon.

    Indeed it is, and Willis cannot have failed to notice the Liverpuddlian jokes.
    Down here in the far SW there is an old saying of people in Redruth; i.e.
    The only good thing to come out of Cambourne is the road to Redruth.
    Similar sayings can be found about adjacent towns throughout the country.
    Richard

  50. Very interesting to read descriptions of our country from someone experiencing it for the first time. Particularly a person from the New World- you maybe realise how shiny and new your world really is, perhaps it has dawned on you how far into Deep Time the roots of the people of these islands are embedded.
    We are a palimpsest, a parchment scraped almost clean many, many times over millennia, but each era leaving just enough of themselves still visible in the landscape or just below the surface to enable faint traces to be seen in the low, last dying rays of evening sunlight.
    Not far from where you were today, near the terminus of a steam operated narrow gauge railway,in a picturesque valley called Eskdale is a working 15th century stone built water mill on a babbling brook, by a humped back stone bridge.
    Scattered In the brook are many worn out mill stones.
    A mill stone will grind flour for around thirty to fifty years.
    If you count the number of old worn out mill stones in the brook, its not hard to work out that there has been a mill, grinding flour on that site, without a break since Roman times.

  51. “The Lake District has no lakes – they are all Tarns, Meres or Waters”
    At the risk of sounding pedantic – Bassenthwaite Lake?

  52. Random rubble stonework eh … takes me back to Wales … probably explains why I now have a bad back. Concrete blocks are all more or less the same weight, but stone is more variable and can catch you out. Getting a twinge in the back just looking at these images.
    We used to sandblast hundreds of years of crud off the walls with a portable rig. Just covered the windows with a mattress or plywood, warned the neighbours to close theirs. Bet you aren’t allowed to do that now.
    Best way to “weather in” new work was to apply a “paint” made from chicken manure. Much cheaper than yoghurt.
    Following on from London247: ” … traditional method to attaching the slates is with wooden pegs to the battens. You will also notice that small slates are at the top and the larger stone slates are at the bottom …”
    Yep. And of course, everything got recycled. So if the roof collapsed, you could recover the smaller slates, but the eventually the bigger ones became rarer because they are more likely to break in the fall. We often found what was inside the wall was the most interesting. Bits of mosaic etc. “Pagan” imagery = Roman, Christian symbols = recycled following Henry VIII sacking the monasteries.

  53. Indeed. Roman architecture fell down or was demolished when there was no one left who knew how to repair it and the rubble from the villas and temples reused by the Saxons to build their lumpy stone cottages and churches.

  54. …and theres many a statue of Demeter or Venus doing service as the Virgin Mary in church walls all over Europe!

  55. Slate roofs may look nice, but I spent my student days in a northern city of slate roofed houses, and on stormy nights I’d listen to them crash into the street after being blown off the roofs, hoping some poor soul wasn’t decapitated by a 20lb razor edged frisbee.

  56. That stone house makes me cringe and I would have trouble simply walking through the door. How can they bear to live inside a structure that would crush you to a paste in even the tiniest little earthquake.

  57. When the locals you can’t understand appear to be talking with gravel in their throats, then you will have arrived in Glasgow.

  58. Glad you’re having a great time, Willis! We bade our youngest daughter a 4 month goodbye on Sunday for her upcoming semester at the U of Glasgow – I’m guessing we’ll see pics from your travels sooner than from hers, and for that I offer thanks 🙂

  59. Sent you a couple of texts Willis. One thing I missed in your traverse through the North East was Washington Old hall, the reputed ancestral home of George Washington.
    Going down the A19 from the Tyne tunnel, turn right at the wind turbines on the Nissan site which appear to turn whatever the weather onto the A1231 and just follow the signs to the old hall.
    DaveE.
    PS.
    I’d love to meet you, you have my number.

  60. James at 48 says:
    September 10, 2013 at 11:03 am
    The “mere” is Old English, but the first part is the genitive of an Old Norse personal name, “Vinandar” or something like that. It was still known as Winander Mere at least as late as 1824.
    Cumbria is linguistically complex, with its own dialect, incomprehensible to outsiders. As with the rest of West Britain, it remained Celtic long after English dialects dominated in the East. Then it was occupied by the Norse or Norwegian extraction from Dublin, as was the NE of the country by Danes.

  61. @Cynical Scientst says:
    September 10, 2013 at 3:39 pm
    “That stone house makes me cringe … tiniest little earthquake.”
    The west and north of the UK is not exactly tectonically inactive, so if they are still up, they are likely to remain that way, as long as the the walls or at least the facing stones are mortared.
    They are often about 0.5m thick, with longer narrow stones set crossways as ties.

  62. Now scotlands roads are something! the main road from Tonge (I think, middle of the top bit going south) and A road, marked in red on map, was about one truck wide with passing places on bends where you need them if you are going the right speed, about 70 oe more should be OK (MPH not wussie KPH)
    Read some of Arthur Ransomes books on the lake district just great!

  63. Willis
    You are taking me down memory lane with your trip. When I was young and could carry an 80lb pack on my back I spent many nights in Youth Hostels, they were an opportunity to dry out when we were drenched after a night or two out in our tents. I don’t think there is one in the Lake District or the Yorkshire Dales that I didn’t spend a night in. Basic accomodation back in the early sixties, usually a men bunk rooms and a ladies bunk rooms and a self service basic kitchen, the fun was meeting other people from diverse backgrounds. Many late nights around a fire pit talking and singing the depending on the hostel, the company and the manager possibly trying to arrange a male + female bunk for the night!!!.

  64. mikef2 says:
    September 10, 2013 at 10:39 am

    Its quite amusing to see things we take for granted being seen as ‘odd’……..you don’t have stone/slate tiles over in the ‘States? I did not know that. Enjoy your stay mate.

    Oh we do. California is too new and all the rocks have been chewed up by fault lines. A lot of buildings have red tile roofs, essentially pieces of pipe cut lengthwise. A lower course carries water, an upper course sheds water into the lower course.
    There are some slate roofs in New England. Stone walls a plenty, many are living monuments to fields an pastures cleared with great effort and recleared of stones lifted by the frost each winter. Granite gate posts are common enough that I can’t remember where any are. We have a granite hitching post by our driveway which may have been used some time ago – there’s also a depression that was used for watering horses back then (1830s or so).
    New Hampshire’s nickname is “The Granite State” and a lot has been carted off to Washington DC for our monuments to large government. Vermont, to our west, has a richer mix of rock types and has slate and marble. That would be the place to get roofing tiles.

  65. Re: slate roofs: Do you recall the movie “Traffic”, about a decade back? The “village” in the Cincinnati area, where the judge who was appointed drug czar (Michael Douglas) lived, has… well it’s been a while since I visited there so I’d better say had, quite a few.
    Thatch is much pricier… due to the labor required for maintenance.

  66. mikef2 says:
    September 10, 2013 at 10:39 am
    Hey Willis….welcome to Blighty. Its quite amusing to see things we take for granted being seen as ‘odd’……..you don’t have stone/slate tiles over in the ‘States? I did not know that. Enjoy your stay mate.

    It depends a lot on which part of the state you’re in. East of Sacramento up I-80 are the towns of Rocklyn, Loomis, Penryn and Newcastle. A little farther south are Folsom and to the east Placerville and Shingle Springs up Hwy 50. There are major granite quarries along the I-80 stretch and there used to be – mostly gone now – pastures fenced with granite posts. The wire was run through holes bored in the posts. At Penryn a Cornish immigrant by the remarkable name of Griffith Griffith founded Penryn named for the town in Cornwall. He also established the Griffith Quarry, now a state park. Newcastle also had its quarries. At Folsom, during the late 19th century, the state had the future inmates of Folsom Prison quarry the granite and build their own prison. The old prison is a spectacular chunk of Gothic Revival stone work. North of Placerville on the South Fork of the American River is the Chili Bar dam and right next to it is the Chili Bar slate mine which produced huge amounts high quality, blue-black slate for use in pool-table beds, roof shingles, and pavers for floors and walks. The mine was a huge grid of tunnels that reached a thousand feet or so back into the mountain. It was reactivated recently and now is mostly an open pit operation. There are also marble and lime quarries scattered around that part of the state. The main limit on the use of stone is cost. Wood was and is much cheaper and far easier to extract.

  67. Richardscourtney 3:12 am Sept 10th 2013:
    Are you sure you live in Cornwall? The town near Redruth is spelt Camborne, not Cambourne.

  68. I see you landed up at a “youth” hostel, Willis. Was that by any chance because I mentioned the possibility to you? It would be nice to think I might have been instrumental in saving you some cash. They’re all over the UK, especially in popular scenic spots.
    It’s amazing that you might find slate roofs unusual, or stone houses: the latter are still occasionally built even in urban areas, where they may be posh and expensive. Most British houses are double-skinned, with an outer brick and an inner breeze block layer, linked by metal ties, with the gap between them these days often containing insulating material, as also does floor of the roof cavity.
    Scotland, especially the highlands, have in abundance something that the rest of the UK doesn’t: grandeur. You really must remember to eat an authentic Scotch pie: they are delicious fresh and hot, if somewhat artery-clogging. Outside the urban areas, almost anywhere you can go is beautiful. The Isles of Mull and Iona on the West coast are fond memories of mine, as is Loch Lomond.
    As proud as I am of our beautiful kingdom, France is more beautiful still. The only problem with it is the French, but nothing is perfect! 😉

  69. Michael Larkin. Oh, come on! You can’t say “France is more beautiful still”. Then do you go on to say that Portugal or Italy is more beautiful than France? What about Canada? What about New Zealand? As you say, France is ruined by the French just like Spain is ruined by the Spanish, and France has some beautiful countryside and sea-sides. But Britain has a glorious diversity, from cityscapes (which are apparently, it turns out according to a survey, number 3 on a list of tourist sight requests) to rolling hills, oak-tree valleys, meandering streams, wonderful coastlines and some breath-taking views of all of them. Very few countries can match that DIVERSITY. There are many stunningly-beautiful countries across the world, but not many where there is such diversity which includes cityscapes. We, in Britain, are very lucky, and we often have to have it pointed out to us by people like Willis and Bill Bryson. We have an amazing history (not all of it glorious, admittedly) AND great scenery. There is not a single country other than Britain which has both. Italy has some history and great aesthetics, but can’t match Britain’s contributions during the Tudor and Victorian eras (etc.). We live in a stunning country, quietly being ruined by politicians, Europhiles and environuts.
    Sorry, I have to leave now, otherwise I might have to set this to music.

  70. @michael larkin
    ‘Scotland, especially the highlands, have in abundance something that the rest of the UK doesn’t: grandeur’
    See it while you can before Mad Alex Salmond covers it in even more windmills in his lunatic drive to ‘100% renewables by 2020’.

  71. National trust … run by the elite for the elite paid for by the plebs.
    It’s a bit like Robin Hood … but in reverse. Its welfare to the rich. “Are you old, spent all your money on frivolous shoots and don’t have enough left to keep you old ruin maintained – well look no further because there’s the National Trust welfare to the rich scheme.”

  72. Willis, you’ve not mentioned how you’re finding the food here.
    I second Michael Larkin on “Scotch Pies” have a napkin at the ready or the juice drips off your elbows 🙂 Another Scottish delicacy you might find in the fish n chip shops up there, “deep fried battered Mars Bar” to really test your constitution!
    Did you manage to try “Jellied eels” around the London area? You might also find them for sale on the East Anglia coast, certainly an acquired taste, consider it a foody challenge!
    Anywhere North of Manchester you might find a slice of “Black Pudding” served with the traditional “Full English Breakfast” if you travel east from there a similar “white pudding” can be found.
    Then there’s the old shaggy dog tale about an American gastronomic guru who wanted to try every British dish, he traveled far and wide in search of an obscure British delicacy “Puy” the story winds round every hill in the country with a tavern, which had sold out of “puy” until years later he crawls into The Tan Hill Inn (World Famous as Great Britain’s Highest Inn, Near Reeth & Richmond in Swaledale and the North Yorkshire Dales National Park) “have you got any puy left”? … Yes Sir, would you like Sheppard’s Puy, Meat & Potato Puy, or Cheese n Onion Puy”?
    Enjoy Scotland, Oban is worth a visit, if only to see the Scottish can be as eccentric as the English when it comes to building follys, McCaig’s Tower sits on the hill above Oban, a much smaller version of the Colosseum in Rome, Oban also has a nice little distillery http://www.oban.org.uk/listing/Oban-Distillery, the scenery along the road to Oban is some of the best in the country.

  73. Really enjoying your posts. It’s always interesting to hear a visitor’s impression of one’s own country.
    Hopefully you’ll enjoy a drive around Lochs Lomond and Ness – beautiful. One thing no-one seems to have mentioned though: (as my Scottish mother always says), watch out, because some haggis are low-flying and can occasionally be a bit aggressive…

  74. DaveF:
    Yes, I live in Cornwall. I fail to understand why you would question it. My post code is TR11 4SL.
    And, yes, I mistyped a ‘u’ into Camborne when making a frivolous point in this thread. It did not affect what I said in any way.
    Strange how such trivia can interest people. And I don’t think that is a British thing: the egregious Phil wasted much of a thread because I mistyped recently.
    Richard

  75. Duster:
    Thankyou for the info. about Penryn near Sacramento which has a stone quarry. The granite quarry of the original Penryn closed long ago.
    I live close to the original Penryn which is adjacent to Falmouth. I have my lunch in the Penryn Asda cafe most days, and I take lunch in the historically interesting Kings Arms pub in the middle of Penryn most Sundays.
    We all live in a small world. And there are more things which unite us than we know.
    Richard

  76. @TLM
    The National trust do not own all coastal paths. Many have been placed by (Labour) Government edict and it is the landowners who have to build them and maintain them to NT H&S specifications. This has caused much trouble to many poorer coastal farmers especially with the H&S regulations and grazing cattle/sheep and badly behaved dogs.
    Cornish ”stone walls” are called hedges.

  77. Using the cheapest materials for house building is common world wide. America uses pine framed buildings, quick to assemble but poor in a tornado, but the lakes use common slate for walls and rooves which are slow to build but probably survive a tornado. Local building materials are picked from the fields by children, or were in olden days now, hopefully, the children are in school.

  78. Richardscourtney September 11, 2013 at 3:06 am:
    Why would I question where you live? Because the mistake you made is a common one by people from elsewhere, but not by locals. Why do you think spelling is trivial, Mr Cortny?

  79. Willis
    May I suggest as you travel South from Edinburgh that you use the A1 which will allow you to visit some lovely places like Berwick, Lindisfarne (Holy Island) and Bamburgh (stunning beach and castle used in numerous movies). You can then continue as far as Darlington where a detour will take you over the North Yorkshire moors to Whitby (home of Dracula story and port of Capt James Cook). Returning to York via either the moors or Scarborough.
    When in York Minster look for the gold phone.
    St Pauls cost per 1 minute call to God £10
    Canterbury £5
    Liverpool £1
    York Minster 10 pence
    It’s a local call!!
    Regards and safe trip

  80. Stone stairs and floors;
    Wonderful stone stair at The Queens House at Greenwich, Inigo Jones, 1616, I hope you had time to see it. He learned about stone stairs on his travels in Italy. They work by torsion not as cantilevers. Common in good Georgian and Victorian houses and even Edwardian block of flats until modern engineers got nervous about why they don’t fall down and how to do sums to justify them. Another good example in The Monument in London, by Christopher Wren, 1671.
    http://www.rmg.co.uk/about/history/queens-house/
    http://www.themonument.info/
    The stone landings are quite interesting too. There is an excellent suspended stone floor at Cawdor Castle, slate beams supporting slate slabs,from memory the beams span about 20 feet.
    Too late for London but Cawdor may be possible still?
    MACBETH
    [Aside] Glamis, and Thane of Cawdor!
    The greatest is behind.

  81. DaveF:
    I am replying to your post at September 11, 2013 at 3:44 am because this thread is about amusing trivia, and there IS amusement to be had from the spelling of my family name .
    Your entire post says

    Richardscourtney September 11, 2013 at 3:06 am:
    Why would I question where you live? Because the mistake you made is a common one by people from elsewhere, but not by locals. Why do you think spelling is trivial, Mr Cortny?

    The misprint indicated nothing other than my thick fingers, and it would only lead to someone suggesting I was making a pointless lie if they had nefarious purpose.
    And spelling is trivial. The English recogniSe that, and Americans recogniZe it, too. Of importance is that the meaning of the word is understood and not how it is spelt.
    There are many spellings of my family name. I use Courtney but Courtenay is common and could be considered more correct because it is a better echo of the name’s origin.
    Courtney derives from the Norman French name of cours de nez (pronounced core de nay). Literally translated it means ‘short of nose’ and is an insulting reference to the (once upon a time) family nose.
    I am often amused that Americans sometimes provide a child with my family name as a given name. Presumably they say,
    “That child has a stubby, little nose so we will call it Courtney”.

    Richard (if you like, Cortny)

  82. DaveF, give it a rest! Personally I’d give away one of my children to live in Cornwall!

  83. My comment about France being more beautiful than the UK was meant as much as anything as a bit of a mischievousness , but for me personally, it is true. Some parts of France are staggering. I remember being absolutely gobsmacked by Mont Saint Michel, Chartres and Rheims. Nor do we have anything to compare with the Alps or the Riviera. Maybe we’re a bit more diverse, I’ll grant.

  84. The Ghost Of Big Jim Cooley September 11 2013, at 5:19 am:
    “….I’d give away on of my children to live in Cornwall.”
    Why, is it one of your favourite – ahem – ‘haunts’?

  85. Thanks, Willis. I enjoyed the photos and comments about building with stone. They remind me of the hauntingly beautiful song “Skellig” by Loreena McKennitt, about an Irish monk who spent his life alone in a “rocky cell” beside the sea, scribing the Word of God, in the days when all books were hand written & copied; when most people in the world were illiterate and routinely faced privations unimaginable in the Western world, today. Hmmm, I wonder why I mentioned that last bit?

  86. Willis, I wish I would have known that you were headed to my neck of the woods, I would have happily taken you to a fine pub and bought you a pint. I live in the Lake District and now, you can see why I love living here so much. As for the roads, I have never had a problem with them, but then I was brought being driven and driving on them. It’s not a problem, so long as you are prepared to brake hard at any given moment.
    I enjoy wizzing along what we call country lanes. I am delighted that you enjoyed your trip to my little beautiful part of the world, it is a bit like a very miniature version of the American Rockies. Very pretty and a delightful place to live.

  87. Michael Larkin
    No Riviera? No Riviera? Our local tourist board have obviously been wasting taxpayers money if that were true.
    During the Napoleonic wars many people holidayed in Torbay as the (other) Riviera was inaccessible.
    Napoleon himself was imprisoned on a ship for 2 days here and declared it similar to Elba.
    Judge for yourself
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Torquay19c.jpg
    English Riviera? French Riviera? Indivisible Mon brave!
    tonyb

  88. Lake District’s Windermere features in the song and Sellafield Pike, Murphy’s pies and various Egremont memories by this Lake District local act living in NYNY at the time and reminiscing.

  89. Michael Larkin says:
    September 11, 2013 at 6:04 am
    Britain (94,000 sq mi) is IMO less diverse than France (261,000 sq mi), which is not surprising. Ben Nevis is ~4400 feet; Mt. Blanc 15,800.

  90. English & French Rivieras compared & contrasted:
    Average August Temperatures, degrees C: Torquay Low 12, High 21; Cannes 19 & 28.
    Of course points must be subtracted for being surrounded by so many foreigners.

  91. Hadrian’s Wall
    Think globalization.
    The Romans garrisoned Hadrian’s Wall with Sarmatian cavalry in the late 100s. The Sarmatians came from eastern Europe to central Asia, including a good part of what is now Kazakhstan. That means that there were very likely Kazakhs in Britain 300 years before there were any English [Angles] there. The Sarmatians also probably influenced the development of the King Arthur legends, particularly the dragon motifs. They used dragon-like windsocks as battle pennants which they had probably borrowed from the Chinese.
    One world.
    So much

  92. Hi Willis,
    Wish I’de known you were to visit my neck of the woods and might have had the chance to meet you! Love your articles on Bath, Liverpool and the Lake District. The roof tiles are made of Lakeland slate, the hardest in the world.
    Aye Bob

  93. Willis,
    Always interesting to hear tell of a familiar place seen through the eyes of a newcomer.
    I never gave a second thought to the stone flag gate posts before now.
    I hope you saw my favourite stone building Bridge House in Ambleside.
    When in Auld Reekie take the time to visit South Queensferry and stand on the waterfront between the two Forth bridges. The cantilever railway bridge structure was designed to fit the strength of the steel available in Victorian times. By contrast for the modern suspension road bridge, thanks to the advance of materials science, the steel was designed to fit the structure.
    Look out for the tiny island of Inchmickery in the Firth of Forth. During both World War I and World War II the island was used as a gun emplacement. The concrete buildings make the island look like a battleship when seen from the periscope of a U-Boat approaching Rosyth Naval Base from the east.

  94. Hi, Willis. Welcome (belatedly) to the UK. Couple of notes. If You go north of the Scottish mainland you get to the Orkney Islands. There is a neolithic settlement called Skara Brae, made completely of stone- walls, beds, cupboards even. (I don’t think they had enclosed toilets!) The northernmost point of Scotland is John O Groats., as I am sure you know. You may not know there are cowries living in the sea there, shells the size of a fingernail. And finally have you read “Notes from a Small Island” , a humorous travel book on Great Britain by American author Bill Bryson. Wonderfull insights.
    Best, JG

  95. Martin Clark says:
    September 10, 2013 at 5:57 pm
    @Cynical Scientst says:
    September 10, 2013 at 3:39 pm
    “That stone house makes me cringe … tiniest little earthquake.”
    The west and north of the UK is not exactly tectonically inactive, so if they are still up, they are likely to remain that way, as long as the the walls or at least the facing stones are mortared.
    They are often about 0.5m thick, with longer narrow stones set crossways as ties.

    I live in such a house near the coast, just outside the Lake District boundary, and can confirm it is still standing after 100+ years (and after experiencing a magnitude 3.6 earthquake as recently as 2010). The other thing about such houses – ours is built of slate – is that they are remarkably energy efficient. Even in the depths of the bitterly cold few winters of the past few years, it was enough to turn on the central heating for less than an hour each morning to keep the house warm and cosy all day. Unfortunately EPCs (Energy Performance Certificates) which are issued whenever a house is bought or sold in this country, don’t seem to take into account the *actual* efficiency, but are more interested in whether you have four inches or twelve of fibreglass insulation in the loft, and so our house is rated fairly low. Should we ever decide to sell I will add a few inches, but I really can’t see the point otherwise.

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