129 Projects in 129 Pictures

Clair Shields – Planning Officer (Building Conservation) and Monument Management Scheme Volunteer Coordinator – previously LEADER Small Scale Enhancements Co-ordinator

Using LEADER money, the North York Moors Small Scale Enhancements Scheme (January 2010 – December 2013) was a relatively small funding stream to help communities carry out enhancement work and conserve assests in their local village and parish. Projects had to fit with one or more of these three LEADER themes:

  • Conservation & Heritage
  • Village Renewal & Development
  • Access to Basic Services

The concept behind the Small Scale Enhancements (SSE) Scheme was that all projects should be generated by the local community, because local people are best placed to determine what’s of value in their area. The National Park Authority bankrolled the projects until the money could be claimed back from the LEADER fund which meant that local communities didn’t have to miss out if they couldn’t find their own temporary funding.

A few key facts

  • 129 projects supported over 4 years
  • 74% of projects fell within the cultural heritage theme
  • 14% of projects fell within the village enhancement theme
  • 12% of projects fell within the access to basic services theme
  • £323,586 of funding provided to 90 communities
  • Additional £30,000 of funding generated through match funding
  • Average cost per project amounted to £2,734

Below are 129 (very small) pictures – each one illustrating one of the 129 small scale projects. Hopefully the pictures give you some impression of the array of enhancements realised through the North York Moors SSE.

HB900 and Vicar's Walk, Hutton Buscel - celebrating 900 years of the Church + tree work 'Heather Hopper' for Esk Moors Active - provision of lift on community bus Lastingham Village Railings - renewal of traditional stone posts and timber railings


Lythe Village Hall - outdoor seating equipment Wass Environment Day - weekend public event celebrating the local environment Old St Stephen's Chuch, Fylingdales - noticeboards, pamphlets, posts and website




Shandy Hall Gate, Coxwold - reinstatement of gates and rebuilding of drystone wall Egton Mortuary Chapel - provision of information board Gillamoor Village Enhancements - restoration of traditional name signs + tablet at Surprise View




Hartoft Horse Trough - repair of double horse troughs 'A Sign in the Right Direction' Project - refurbishment of 8 traditional highways signs Drovers' Road Play - creation of play based on local heritage




Thornton le Dale Village Projects - notice board, directional signs and restoration of stocks. Alms Houses photo by Peter Smith. Heritage Cycle Routes - creation of cycle route linking heritage and local villages in the south of the North York Moors Kilburn Village Institute - upgrading heating system. Photo © Gordon Hatto.




Coxwold Village Enhancements Art for Sustainability - art classes around sense of place Chop Yat Iron Forge Festival, Chop Gate - traditional events and demonstrations




Fylingthorpe Methodist Chapel - setting up luncheon club for elderly residents Ravenscar Barrows - geophysical survey of ancient barrow site Sinnington Local History Group - I.T. equipment for village archive




Fylingdales Local History Group's 'Archive Open Door Project' - archiving historical documents Rosedale History Society - display equipment
Rosedale Railway 150 - website and leaflet to celebrate 150 anniversary



Farndale Band Room - provision of new doors Lastingham War Memorial - restoration Old Byland Church - restoration of drystone walls and mediaeval tiles




Lealholm Church Pews - seat cushions Roxby Old Manor Site - consolidation of ruins Aislaby Name Signs - provision of traditional looking signage




Rosedale and Thorgill Name Plates - provision of traditional looking signage Abbeyfield Esk Moor, Castleton - projector and sound equipment for facilities for the elderly Ampleforth Water Pump - repair of street water pump





Appleton le Moors Church Displays - permanent display in Church Beggars Bridge, Glaisdale - interpretation panel Castleton Play Area - new access gate




Chop Gate History Project - celebrating the last 60 years of Bilsdale Commondale Village Hall - new boundary fencing and disabled access Goathland Village Improvements - restoration of heritage signage and old stone trough




Ha Ha Bridge, Thornton le Dale - restoration of listed bridge Hackness Pinfold - restoration Hackness, Suffield, Broxa Name Signs - traditional looking name signs




Hinderwell Cemetery - restoration of iron railings Hutton Buscel Gate Piers - restoration of listed pillars and reinstatement of gates Hutton le Hole War Memorial - renovation





Hutton le Hole Wildflower Area - creation of wild flower meadow behind Church Ingleby and Battersby Junction Name Signs - traditional looking new name signs Ingleby Cross and Arncliffe Name Signs - new village name signs




Jugger Howe Nature Trail - boardwalk materials for new nature trail Lastingham Beck Enhancement Lockton Village Improvements - restoration of village well and provision of tree seat




Lythe War Memorial - cleaning and re-etching NYM Honeybee Conservation Project - hives for nucleus colonies Osmotherley Pinfold - repair




Oswaldkirk Telephone Kiosk - restoration Peacock Row Cobbling, Robin Hood's Bay - pavement works Pinchinthorpe Hall - moat and garden restoration





Plum Tree House, Borrowby - restoration of historic trods River Esk Monitoring - training local anglers to monitor invertebrates Rosedale Church Conservation Area - creation of grassland conservation area in churchyard




Rosedale East Pond - restoration Seggymire Community Access - restoration of historic route along Old Monks Trod Sinnington Village Maypole - restoration of village maypole




Sneaton War Memorial - cleaning Spaunton Village Projects - retoration of listed Victoria cross and village pinfold St Hilda's Church, Chop Gate - notice board and seat




St Hilda's Old School, Hinderwell - new energy efficient lighting St John's, Fangdale Beck - restoration of war memorial and new gate Staithes Harbour Store - improvements





Tallest Man in the World Musical - creation of musical play telling local story by Osmotherley and Swainby Primary Schools Teaching Trees - coordination of woodland classess for local schools The Hulleys, Cloughton - topographic and geophysical surveys of prehistoric site




Thimbleby Sports Field - provision of a generator Thirlby Village Improvements - railings for Village Hall, traditional name sign, I.T equipment Underhill Flags, Robin Hood's Bay - repairs to section of historic stone flag footpath




Victorian Geology Experience - display materials and costumes Warren Moor Panel - on site interpretation of the 19th century Ironstone Mine Bilsdale 100th Anniversary Show - contribution to celebrations




Hawnby and Laskill Telephone Boxes - reuse of old red telephone boxes as information hubs Hall Fields Walk, Great Ayton - improved access into woods Battersby Junction - opening up section of historic trod





Goathland Trods - restoration of historic stone trodsBygones of Bilsdale - 3 day exhibition and event to record memories
Hutton le Hole Village Hall - provision of screen for presentations. Photo © Pauline Eccle.





Robin Hood's Bay Museum - promotional signage and display lightingHutton Buscel Churchyard Project - woodland and wildlife education

 Robin Hood's Bay Museum - improvements to the Museum to gain museum accreditation. Photo © Mike Kirby.




Hinderwell War Memorial - renovation Battersby Junction Recreation Ground - contaminated land survey to enable community use Danby History Tree - educational history plate in tree stump




Hawnby Church Path - footpath works for improved and safer access to Church Levishan Wall - rebuilding of prominent drystone wall in Conservation Area Newton on Rawcliffe Village Hall - timber windows




Lastingham Notice Boards - provision of 2 new village notice boards Danby Village Hall - improving energy efficiency. Photo from solarwall.co.uk. St Thomas', Glaisdale - churchyard improvements + information board. Photo from Familysearch.com.




Doorways Project - local youth scheme to involve young people in their community Bridge over the River Esk - erection of bridge to open up circular routes Fryup Cricket Club - new pavilion and improvements to facilities

Byland Abbey and Oldstead Village Improvements - restoration of traditional name signs Appleton le Moors Village Hall Display - provision of display equipment St Michael's, Cold Kirby - heating and lighting improvements. Photo from Familysearch.org.




West Ayton Wildflowers Project - creation of a wild flower meadow


Flithers and Swill, Staithes - production of song reflecting local oral history Handale Abbey Gate - new gate for listed walled garden. Picture of local legend by pupil from St Josephs School, Loftus.









Lealholm Village Interpretation - village information board Kildale Village Boards - information board and two new noticeboards Hawsker Village Interpretation - village information board




Fylingdales Football Team - purchase of starter kit for newly formed local team Rosedale Abbey Pond - restoration Gillamoor Cricket Club - provision of cricket nets for playing field


NYM Riding Routes - promotion of 14 circular horse riding routes through the National Park Gateways - website development for access promotion Chop Gate and Carlton School Wildlife Areas - creation







Sunnyside Trods, Fylingdales - restoration of historic trod Cosy Cottage Steps, Robin Hood's Bay - pavement works Laurel Cottage to Gallery Cottage, Robin Hood's Bay - pavement work





St John's, Pockley - restoration of old Victorian heating system Osmotherley Cobbles - restoration of cobbled area  Ride Yorkshire - creation and promotion of long distance horse ride routes

Ugglebarnby Village Improvements - renovation of traditional sign and trods Levisham Flag Pole - reinstatement of village flag pole
North Yorkshire and Cleveland Heritage Coast Forum Panels - six interpretation panels to help promote work of Forum



Staintondale and Ravenscar Local History Group - digitally recording their archive collections





Staithes Arts and Heritage Festival - equipment to display archivesIngleby Greenhow Name Signs - restoration




Newton on Rawcliffe Church Clock - restoration and repair Kildale Tomb Chests - repair of listed tombs in churchyard



Hawk and Owl Trust - interpretation for Fylingdales Moor

For more information see the full North York Moors SSE Review. Hopefully we will be able to access LEADER funding for the North York Moors and surrounding area again from 2015. In the meantime the National Park has its own Community Fund for small scale local projects.


Honey Bee Boles: part 2

Graham Lee – Senior Archaeological Conservation Officer

Following on from Kirsty’s post last September it is very pleasing to report that the conservation of the bee boles wall on the south side of Glaisdale is now complete.

The funding for the work was provided by Natural England through Higher Level Stewardship (HLS), with project management supplied by us on behalf of the HLS agreement holder/landowner. The work was completed by Donald Gunn, an expert in building and restoring dry stone walls, using photographs and historic knowledge of the site.

The row of bee boles at GR 477038 503548 is easy enough to visit if you get the chance as they face onto the public footpath which runs along the south-eastern side of Glaisdale, between William Howe (off the road up from Delves) and High Gill Beck.

It’s brilliant to see such a striking feature of our local historic and cultural environment conserved for the future.

Before and After

Kirsty Brown – Conservation Project Assistant

Land managers and local contractors across the North York Moors have been working hard throughout the year, despite the adversity of torrential rain, deep mud, and endless gale-force winds, to keep the hedges and walls of our National Park going.

In addition to being a great landscape feature, the hedge and wall boundaries provide a long list of benefits to land managers, livestock and wildlife. Here are a few of the benefits (you might be able to think up more):

  • Wind break (crop and livestock protection)
  • Long-lasting livestock retention (outlasting fences by many years!)
  • Soil erosion prevention
  • Wildlife corridors
  • Shelter for livestock and a range of wildlife from snakes to ladybirds
  • Nesting areas for wildlife such as birds and voles
  • Pollen and nectar for bees and other insects
  • Food for wildlife (and foraging humans!)
  • Diversity of vegetation, within the hedge and in the sheltered areas at the foot of hedges and walls, in addition to fungi and lichens

A number of land managers applied for grant aid via our Traditional Boundary Scheme during the year. It was my job to initially assess each site, run a constraint check to make sure that what we were going to grant aid wouldn’t have a negative effect, and draw up the grant-aid agreements. I’m now rushing around checking up on grant claims before the end of the financial year.

Here are some of the before and after shots from the Traditional Boundary Scheme so far.

Thanks to all the land managers who have been involved in the Scheme over the last year, and well done everyone who’s completed so far; the renovated boundaries are looking good (the hedgerows always take a bit longer to look good than the walls)! Keep an eye out on our website, our Twitter and Facebook sites, and in the local press, for how to apply for the Traditional Boundary Scheme next financial year.

Cutting, slicing, chipping, laying a hedge

Kirsty Brown – Conservation Project Assistant

Alasdair (Conservation Graduate Trainee) and I recently took part in a hedge laying workshop at the Moors National Park Centre, Danby, along with a small group of regular National Park Volunteers. 

This traditional method of hedgerow management requires a great deal of skill, and Keith Ferry of Woodland Connections was our expert instructor. Hedge laying is a type of hedgerow management, and helps ensure the hedge remains strong, thick and stock-proof, plus it looks very tidy once complete. Left unmanaged, hedges get tall and straggly, with gaps at their base that animals can squeeze through.

Keith gave us a brief history of hedgerow management, and passed around some of the many types of billhook available, each with regional differences (and some of which looked like they were out of Pirates of the Caribbean!). An axe, small foldable saw, pen knife and loppers are also useful tools of the trade. Most importantly, all tools need to be sharp!

Firstly, we surveyed the hedge, identifying the species present, the rough age and condition of the hedge, and whether there were any species such as oak, which may have the potential to be left standing to grow on as hedgerow trees. Hedges need to be laid in their dormant phase, usually October to March in the North York Moors area, and this particular hedge was just on the cusp, as it has been a very late autumn.

The decision on which direction to lay the hedge depends on a number of factors, including what the land owner wants, whether there is a bank/ditch/difficult access on one side, and the prevailing wind (resulting in the hedge leaning in a particular direction). Next, Keith demonstrated how to clear away small twigs and make the first cut. The techniques and styles for hedge-laying differ around the country, and in this case we were slicing through the base of each plant as low down as we could, gradually chipping off more with the billhook and gently easing the stem downward to bend it towards the ground, leaving a section of the bark and the inner rings of the stem intact to allow the hedge to survive (although one or two were accidentally chopped right through – luckily it was a thick hedge so there was plenty to fill in any gaps we made!). The laid stem is called a ‘pleacher’, and is laid with a slightly upward slant to allow the sap to still rise. Right-handed people work with the billhook in the right hand and push the stems to the left, and left-handed people work on the other side of the hedge and do the opposite – we were lucky as we had both in our group!

It is incredible to imagine that, come spring time, this hedge will spring into life (hopefully!) just from the thin connection of bark and inner sapwood we left, allowing the sap to rise enough to keep the hedge alive.

For more info on hedgerows see the Hedgelink website – and there is even a UK National Hedgelaying Society if you want to find out more about the technique.

The Traditional Boundary Scheme is a grant scheme available for the restoration of hedges and dry stone walls in the North York Moors National Park, and includes grants towards hedge laying and coppicing, in addition to hedge planting. The next deadline for applications is any moment now – 22 November 2013. Otherwise look out for next year’s application information, from April 2014.

Hedgerow possibilities: part 2

Kirsty Brown – Conservation Project Assistant

Following on from my last post about the natural history of hedgerows…

Hedgerow history and hedges as a natural resource

Hedgerows in the United Kingdom have been dated back to the Bronze Age, and many included banks and ditches. In the past, many hedgerow trees were very important for human use, and would often have been pollarded. Some ancient hand-drawn maps show individual trees within the boundaries, often at very regular intervals.

The wood from hedgerow trees was harvested for making poles, hurdles, broom handles and for use as fuel in fires. The term ‘by hook or by crook’ is thought to have originated from the historical allowance that tenant farmers and those with access to common land could take what they could reach with a shepherd’s crook or billhook, whilst the land owner owned the tree trunks.

The shapes of fields and hedge layout can provide important clues to the age of a hedge. Tudor fields tend to be square, those ploughed with ox and cart often had a sinusoidal edge to allow a wider turning circle at the end of the rows, and circular fields can indicate previous deer parks. The 19th century Enclosures Act resulted in the creation of many more hedge boundaries.

Hedges are beneficial to land managers as they serve to intercept strong winds and blizzards, protect soil from erosion and help reduce flooding. Livestock can often be seen pressed up against the hedge line or under the shelter of an ancient boundary tree in extremes of weather, including hot sunshine.

The recent interest in self-sufficiency and organic food has resulted in greater numbers of people going out foraging, including me. Foraging in England and Wales is not illegal as long as what is collected is not intended for commercial use. Foraging should always be done in a sustainable way, leaving plenty for the wildlife, so the plant can set seed and reproduce, and in the case of hedgerow 5hedgerows so as not to damage the structure of the field boundary.

Delicious fruits such as gooseberries, raspberries, apples, cherries, elderberries can be found in the hedgerow, along with hazelnuts, and plants such as meadowsweet along verges (which can be used to make an incredible sorbet). Be sure of what you’re picking if you’re going to eat it. Hedgerow 3Take care to avoid picking where there may be pollutants and pesticides present, and never remove a plant by its roots unless you have the landowner’s permission. Some plants may be protected by bye laws. There are many excellent books to guide you on the rules of foraging, what is edible, what to avoid, when to forage for it and how best to consume hedgerow 2it, and my current favourites are ‘Food for Free’ by Richard Mabey, and ‘The Hedgerow Handbook: Recipes, Remedies and Rituals’ by Adele Nozedar.

Over time hedge plants have become robust and often thorny to protect themselves, as ancient wild herbivores would have grazed on Hedge 1them, in addition to foraging humans! Hedgerow management, including cutting hedges, mimics this grazing action and exploits the natural vigour of the plants. Traditional hedge care including cutting by hand and laying/coppicing with billhooks would have been undertaken locally and over a greater period of time, compared to the more modern and rapid mechanical hedge-cutting with a Hedge laying - Levisham Estate hedge laying workshop November 2009flail. Whichever method is used, it is a good idea to clean equipment between locations to prevent spread of disease.

Cutting sections of hedges in rotation, spaced out over several years, allows a mosaic of habitat niches to develop along a single hedge so wildlife can easily move to the area of their preferred environment, and it also results in more fruit, nuts, pollen and nectar on the hedges that have not been cut for some time. Generally, larger, older and bushier hedges support a greater diversity of wildlife, whilst heavy management can reduce biodiversity. Natural England provide guidance and information on how to enhance hedges for wildlife. There is also useful information available from Hedgelink. Without management over time hedgerows become relicts, eventually declining as a connecting habitat and less likely to survive as a feature.

Hedgerow protection and regulations

Since the Second World War, there has been a huge decline in hedges as field sizes and building developments increase, and hedgerow management decreases. Under the Hedgerows Regulations 1997 it is against the law to remove or destroy certain hedgerows without permission from the Local Planning Authority (in the North York Moors National Park – that’s us). The Local Planning Authority is also the enforcement body for offences created by the Regulations.

Grants available from the North York Moors National Park Authority

If you’re looking to restore a hedgerow through planting, coppicing or laying, or perhaps create a new hedge where there is currently just a fence, we may be able to help you with our Traditional Boundary Scheme grant, with can offer up to £2,000 a year. Dry stone wall restoration is also eligible. Just ask and we’ll see what we can help you do.



Story of a (temporary) drystone wall

Kirsty Brown – Conservation Project Assistant

Back one Sunday in August, Alex and I took part in a drystone walling workshop for the general public led by National Park Ranger (West), Carl Cockerill.

The heavens opened just after we arrived at the Sutton Bank National Park Centre, but thankfully we were indoors for the first half-hour to watch a short film about drystone walling…set in India. It was interesting to discover the technique of drystone walling was devised because of a lack of skilled people to provide dressed stone, so the careful interlocking and balancing of stone of all shapes and sizes, known here as drystone walling, meant stock-proof boundaries could be built without dressed stone. There are examples of these types of boundaries all over the world.

Next it was outside for some hands-on effort as the sun came out, and our first job was easy – dismantle the training wall!

We carefully brought the wall down to the foundations. Then Carl set up the A-frames to ensure we would be working to the correct width and height as we began the rebuild. Some boulders were so heavy I was unable to move them, but with a bit of teamwork the wall slowly came together, layer by layer. The foundations consisted of the largest stones, and in this style of wall, stuck out from the first layer by about 5cm. The base of the wall was roughly half the height in order to provide stability. Throughstones ran from one side of the double-skinned wall to the other at regular intervals to steady the layers. Small stones were packed into the middle of the wall, filling in gaps and strengthening the structure. The upper layers included coverbands (creating a flat layer beneath the coverstones) and finally there was a topmost layer of flat, slanted coverstones.

There is a huge amount of skill behind a good drystone wall, and a wall repaired by a skilled waller can be expected to last around 100-150 years! Whilst it would have been nice to be able to see how well we did in the long term (I’m thinking potentially 5 – 20 years at most!), unfortunately the next workshop will enjoy dismantling all our hard work! Keep an eye out for events in the North York Moors and in our ‘Out and About in the North York Moors’ free magazine for future workshops and events such as another Drystone Walling workshop.

Wildlife within the walls….drystone walls provide shelter and habitats for all kinds of creatures, such as slow worms, lizards and adders, attracted to the warmth absorbed by the stones from the sun. So walls can be as much use to biodiversity as other traditional boundaries such as hedgerows and ditches.

Hares, voles, mice, stoats, frogs and toads, and bird life such as wrens also make good use of these boundaries, weaving in and out and sheltering within the stonework.  Birds of prey such as kestrels often perch upon the walls, keeping an eye out for movement from these small creatures.

Various beautiful lichens and mosses live on the rock faces, often preferring the cooler north-facing stones.

All kinds of invertebrates live within the nooks and crannies like beetles, snails and springtails.

Livestock frequently use walls for shelter against strong winds, rain and snow, and these boundaries hinder soil erosion.

In some cases, people have deliberately created structures within walls for particular animals, such as bee boles and sheep creeps (a sheep creep is a purpose built gap in the wall which sheep can get through to graze the next door field but other bigger farm animals can’t). The Dry Stone Walling Association has informative leaflets on both walls and wildlife, and bee boles.

Drystone walls are an important landscape and cultural feature of the North York Moors, across farmland, past and present, and along the edge of the moorland. In many cases a stock proof drystone wall is still an important management tool. If you have a field boundary drystone wall in the North York Moors that could do with being repaired, have a look at our Traditional Boundary Scheme grant information. You could potentially receive up to £2,000 per financial year towards your wall repairs.

Wall in landscape - Ladhill Gill

Honey Bee Boles

Kirsty Brown – Conservation Project Assistant

One of our latest projects involves the restoration of approximately 77 bee boles along a wall near Glaisdale. This is the largest number in a single wall ever recorded in England and Scotland!

What is a bee bole?

Bee boles are sheltered recesses in the wall which would have traditionally held skeps. Skeps are wicker/heather/straw bee hives, often moulded around sheep horns.

Donald Gunn is an expert in historic dry stone walls and is currently working at the Glaisdale site to return the huge stones to their original positions, using photographs and historic knowledge of the site. Natural England are providing funding through Higher Level Stewardship (HLS), and the North York Moors National Park Authority are managing the project on behalf of the HLS agreement holder.

The wall runs east to west, with the bee boles facing south. This deliberate orientation would ensure that not only would the bees face the heather moorland alongside the wall, but the warmth from the sun reaching the sheltered skeps would ensure an early start and late finish to their day of collecting heather nectar and pollen, maximising the amounts of honey and other bee products per skep.

Researcher Caroline Hardie, of Archaeo-Environment Limited, is also working on the project, and believes this site may have been for commercial honey production, or was a resource shared between the local communities.

The Glaisdale bee boles and attempts at traditional skep creation were featured on BBC Countryfile, on Sunday 8 September 2013. If you missed it, you might still catch it on BBC iPlayer.

Another beautiful example of bee boles in the North York Moors can be seen in nearby Westerdale. This remarkable structure (see below) was built in 1832 and is a Grade II listed building.

If you want to know more about bee boles and find out where else you can see them in Britain – have a look at the IBRA Bee Boles Register website. If you have any information on or photos of the use of bee boles in the North York Moors National Park, we would love to hear from you.

The National Park Authority is also keen to help with the conservation/restoration of more mundane but still valuable drystone walling in the National Park which is an important cultural and landscape feature of the North York Moors. If you might be interested in a grant for the restoration of standard dry stone walls (and hedgerows), we have a new Traditional Boundary Scheme which could help.

End of summer

Rona Charles – Senior Ecology Officer

As part of Ryedale Folk Museum’s Harvest Celebrations last weekend, the Cornfield Flowers Project cut and collected the wheat crop from the cornfield at the Museum. Project staff and volunteers used traditional scythes to cut the corn, together with the seeding wild flowers that grew with it. The corn was then gathered into sheaves and stacked into stooks to dry.  With the Museum’s Iron Age round house as the backdrop (that’s the pyramid like shape) and no man-made sound other than the swish of the scythe blade, this was a timely reminder for visitors of how different most rural life is now!

The Cornfield Flowers Project aims to return arable flowers like the Corn marigold and Cornflower (some still flowering in the Museum field at the weekend) to the edges of willing farmers’ fields. Here the flowers will be avoided by the application of modern herbicides but there is no need for them to be avoided by modern harvesting machinery. Fortunately scythes aren’t compulsory for the conservation management of cornfield flowers.

Building chainsaw skills, dry-stone walls and a career!

Gregor Stuart, one of our former Apprentices and now a Field Assistant, has blogged about his experiences on the Not Going To Uni Blog, have a read!

Learning about lime mortars

Clair Shields – LEADER Small Scale Enhancements Co-ordinator & Planning Officer (Building Conservation)

4A couple of weeks ago a team of us from the National Park Authority’s Planning and Conservation Departments attended an educational (and enjoyable) lime training event to better understand the use of traditional lime mortars in pointing and plastering work. The practical training was delivered by Nigel Copsey from the Earth Stone & Lime Company, at his headquarters in Thornton le Dale. Everyone got to try hands-on re-pointing work as well as having a go at both earth and lime plastering, using a large panel of timber laths, which was the type of construction used for interior partitions and ceilings from the eighteenth century into the twentieth century. The purpose of the day was to make us all better aware of the benefits of using lime over cement and to spread the word to residents and builders in order to try and preserve and improve the built heritage of the National Park.1

The reason for using lime mortars in preference to cement mortars is that cement is an impervious material which is almost always harder than the stone or brick that it surrounds. This means that moisture in the wall (from rain penetration, rising damp or faulty gutters) has to evaporate through the masonry rather than the harder mortar, and through freeze-thaw action this process erodes the surface of the masonry over time, sometimes leading to severe erosion and even a ‘laddering’ effect where the cement survives but the masonry has disappeared!

By contrast, lime mortars are breathable, permeable mortars which will generally be softer than the stone or brickwork. The lime wicks moisture from the masonry, allowing it to evaporate without harm to the masonry-surface. A lime mortar acts as a sacrificial material which protects the more valuable stone or brick – it’s a lot cheaper to re-point every century or two than to replace eroded masonry!2