The Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain
The Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain (DSWA) was founded in 1968 in Kirkcudbrightshire, by the late Mrs Murray-Usher and the Stewartry Drystane Dyking Committee. Since those early days, the Association has continued to expand and currently has over 1000 members in the UK and overseas.
The DSWA has a network of local branches across the UK, all of which can be found on their website, with four branches in Scotland. These are Central Scotland (CSDSWA), South East of Scotland (SEDSWA), South West of Scotland (SWDSWA) and Skye. Each one organises a wide range of activities throughout the year, including training courses, practice days and demonstrations at local shows and events.
The Central Scotland Branch of the Dry Stone Walling Association
The Central Scotland branch of the DSWA was set up in 1982 and currently has 61 members. The branch serves members in Angus, Tayside, Fife and Perth & Kinross, though we welcome anyone wishing to get involved from all over Scotland.
Our first branch secretary, Ian Dewar, worked hard to establish DSWA as a national charity, and was made an Honorary Life Member in thanks for his commitment. In the early days the branch was mostly involved in the repair of farm dykes, with a strong emphasis on training to ensure quality work. Grants at that time were available to farmers to get this work done. A Perthshire farmer had miles of walls needing attention. This set the branch on a sound footing financially. Since then, our activities have widened in scope and cover a wider area, though we still rate training and maintaining standards as top priorities. Unfortunately there are no longer grants available to farmers in Scotland, but training fees and donations continue to fund our operation.
Aims of the DSWA
The main aims of the Association are to promote a greater understanding and knowledge about the traditional craft of dry stone walling and to encourage the repair and maintenance of dry stone walls throughout the country. DSWA operates a nationally accredited craftsman certification scheme, run in conjunction with Lantra Awards, which offers four levels of certification. DSWA branches offer a range of short courses, mainly for beginners, but there are some opportunities for more advanced training. Courses are also run by a number of colleges throughout the country, details of which are available from the head office.
The DSWA Headquarters
In 2004 DSWA relocated to Cumbria and its Head Office is based at the Westmorland County Showground, Crooklands from where all leaflets, books and equipment are available. There is an outdoor exhibition showing the variety of stone found within the UK and how the type of stone affects the way in which walls are built in different parts of the country. There is also a training site where practical courses are run. This work was generously funded by the Cumbria Fells and Dales LEADER+ Programme.
DSWA is a registered charitable organisation and relies on membership subscriptions for much of its income.