Dry-stone Walling in Littondale

An extract from the book 40 Humourous British Traditions

“I can build a better stone wall than you can,” “My wall is straighter than yours,” and “My stone wall is longer than yours” were all familiar brags in 15th Century Yorkshire when the farmers were building walls around Littondale to enclose their sheep and cows.

After 100 years of controversy and shoving between rival wall builders a man called Clarence Boycott decided to settle the issue once and for all. He began the Littondale Wall Contest in 1632, where farmers from this valley and beyond were given the task of building a wall up a hill within the 24 hours of the day of the summer solstice.

Each farmer was allowed three helpers who could bring food and drink to him and place stones along the line of the wall, but they must not help him construct the wall in any way. The helpers could also hose the farmer down on the hotter days.


Published by Julian Worker

I was born in Leicester. I attended school in Yorkshire and University in Liverpool. I have been to 93 countries and territories including The Balkans and Armenia in 2015, France and Slovakia in 2016, and some of the Greek Islands in 2017. My sense of humour is distilled from The Goons, Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, and Midsomer Murders. I love being creative in my writing and I love writing about travelling. My next books are a travel book about Greece and a novel inspired by Brexit.

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