Clay buildings revealed
A third of the world’s population live in buildings made of earth or clay.
Whilst this may not seem surprising, the fact that clay is a traditional building material all around the Solway was one of the revelations made by Alex Gibbons in a talk to the Architectural Heritage Society in Castle Douglas.
Three hundred such buildings have been identified in north Cumbria.
Alex is the principal of Stick in the Mud Conservation and provides advice and craft skills to conserve clay dabbin buildings.
Around the Solway such buildings are usually constructed from clay produced from a wet mix using materials dug up close to the building.
The clay is mixed with straw and sculpted to form walls mounted on a stone plinth. Often the clay is used in conjunction with wooden crucks which provide support for the roof.
In Dumfries and Galloway clay buildings include Priorslynn Bothy near Canonbie, the Cruck Cottage at Torthorwald and, perhaps the most famous building in the region – the Blacksmiths Shop at Gretna Green.
Alex explained how clay buildings can be difficult to identify as they are often finished with a lime or concrete render which obscures the clay.
He is about to undertake a survey of clay buildings in Dumfries and Galloway for Historic Environment Scotland.
Alex is also the proud owner of Priorslynn Bothy, a grade A listed building, which he is conserving as two huts using the innovative Scottish planning legislation.