The dry stone walling workshop

When building the dry-stone walls in a traditional way, it is an impactful activity that requires a lot of work. 

All about the stones

Local material and stones are used. A common stone in Campania and specifically in Tramonti is Tuff stone. With volcanic activity, new material was brought to the surface. Tuff stone can even appear in different colours all around Campania. The Neapolitan yellow tuff, also called “Pozzolana”, was formed more than over 10.000 years ago. You can even find some fossils in the stone, since the ash was erupted into the sea.

If you continue to drive past the Amalfi coast towards Naples, you will go  through the coast of Sorrento. Between Sorrento and Meta thick coats of  grey-brownish tuff banks rank at the cliffs.  North of Tramonti, behind the Monte Lattari, greyish tuff was formed way over 30.000 years ago.

Why chose traditional construction?

To make these walls a lot of time is needed if you don’t use “more modern” ways like concrete. The main advantage for the traditional repair is the permeability of water. Unfortunately, concrete still gets sometimes used, the low costs, an “instant” repair and no need of the special rebuilding technique is required. Although, the negative effects of the “more modern” walls can be seen. Their plain surface gives no habitat for flora and fauna.

To construct the actual wall, you can think that this follows the same principle as Tetris. It’s important not to leave big gaps between the stones, so no soil is washed out when it rains. In some cases, the stones have to be modified by getting them into the right shape with a hammer. Thanks to the material of the tuff stone, it can be relatively easy to alter its shape compared to other types of stones.

The work

Repairing the wall in the garden of ACARBIO took around two days. A local craftsman was handling the construction. It started the removal of soil to have enough space for the stones to fit in. Then, a ditch was dug where the first layer of stones where placed, this will help for stabilisation. Carefully, one stone was put after another. The wall was built from the bottom up, layer by layer. At first, hard white rock form the mountains were used. After one layer of stones soil was placed behind the rocks. Next to the wall was a little mountain of soil that was transported by hand shovelling before. But little by little it began to shirk.

The replaced wall was around 2 meters wide and 1,8 meters high, the higher the wall was rebuilt, the harder the work was. The mountain of soil was getting smaller and so it was harder to shovel the soil and since the wall was getting higher, the buckets had to be lifted higher as well (but thankfully we had enough motivated interns and volunteers who were eager to help).

Now, we have to wait how long the wall will stand, but it should do fine for the next years!


This element is on the pathway of terraces which was created in the ESC Solidarity project Incontriamoci nei terrazzamenti. Find out more: or