A traditional dry stone wall built by Beverley-born Australian citizen Emma Knowles has recently become a new feature on Westwood common.
Emma is one of only five female Dry Stone Walling Association (DSWA) Advanced Dry Stone Wallers in the world, and the only advanced waller and instructor operating in the southern hemisphere!
Emma is currently in England fulfilling the requirements of an International Specialized Skills Institute Fellowship, as well as managing the estate of Pat Knowles, Emma’s mother, who passed away late last year.
The Fellowship aims to develop Dry Stonework in Australia by establishing an internationally recognised accreditation system and further developing the diversity of the walling community, with a particular focus on women and people from Aboriginal backgrounds in rural areas. Pat and Emma spent a lot of time together on the Westwood over the years, and in recent years Pat had commented that the dry stone wall at Westwood Close could do with Emma’s attention.
A chance discussion with owner Professor Barbara English, a well known and highly regarded historian, meant Pat’s suggestion is now a reality.
Born a snicket away around the same time the original wall was built, Emma said “As this chapter of my family’s history in the town draws to a close it’s an absolute privilege to be able leave our mark in such a special place.” Normally a feature of the North and West Ridings, dry stone walling is an unusual sight in the East Riding of Yorkshire so this construction has attracted a lot of attention over the last few weeks, from both people and cows alike!
Emma added “Through the construction of this wall I hope to have raised awareness and understanding of traditional dry stone techniques, as well as provoking thought around the capability of women in trades”.
Emma is director of Stone of Arc an Australian based company focused on design, construction, restoration and training in dry stone work. Primarily working on commissions in Australia, Emma has worked on several UK constructions, facilitated training workshops internationally, and has been instrumental in foundation work to establish an international women’s walling network.
A number of information sessions have been held during the course of the construction at Westwood Close, and a marker stone has been laid within the wall bearing the date of construction and the owner’s initials. A unique Stone of Arc masons mark has also been included and the Yorkshire rose incorporated in the design.
If you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to check it out next time you’re on Westwood!