Devon field boundaries: restoration standards for agri-environment schemes (TIN039)

Stone faced Devon bank

A stone faced Devon bank is an earth bank, which is faced on one or both sides with stone, and supported by an infill of well consolidated earth. The style of the stone work can vary greatly.

Stone facing should be undertaken in accordance with the best standards, traditions and designs of your district. The style should always be consistent with other stone work in the immediate locality. Where the original stone is no longer available, eg it has been removed in the past or is not in a viable condition to be re-used, replacement stone must be sourced locally and be of a type used in the area. Stone must not be taken from other walls, hedge banks or buildings. Old features of the wall such as creep holes or built in granite troughs should be restored and retained.

Preparation for restoring a stone faced bank should involve carefully stripping loose stone back by hand until there are firm stones to build upon. The basal courses should not be disturbed as these could be of archaeological importance. If building a new section of stone facing, the largest stones should be set in firmly, well below ground level, to form a solid foundation.

The natural face of the stone should be used to determine how the stones are set. Build up in courses, using progressively smaller stones nearer the top of the wall and ensure that the stones sit firmly on the course below. On completion of each course it is important to backfill with earth and small stones and tamp down well to form a solid core before continuing with the next course.

The joints should be staggered as in brickwork and long stones should be incorporated at staggered intervals to run back lengthways into the middle of the hedgebank as tie stones (see figure 6).

The face of the bank should have a slight batter (slope), and the overall profile should be slightly concave. This will help combat bulging and strengthen the finished bank. It will also be some deterrent to sheep. Depending on local practice, the top should be finished off either with a row of large flat stones, vertical stones or a layer of turf, all of which will help to secure the courses below. A suitable hedge may be planted on top.

Figure 6 Cross section of stone faced bank

Existing stone work around gateways should also be restored. Where there is currently no stone work, stoning up is recommended to prevent erosion and damage from livestock or machinery. There are two types of wall ending; the square form, which has tie stones across the end, and a quoin, which has a rounded end (for more details see the stone walling section).

Please note:

  • Haul stone only when ground conditions are firm enough to prevent damage to adjacent fields.
  • A supplementary payment is available where significant quantities of stone need to be imported.
  • On completion of the job the site should be left level and tidy with any earth pits filled in and surplus stone removed.
  • Restoring a stone faced Devon bank is skilled work. If you do not have the necessary skills to complete the work to the required standard, then we recommend that you employ a reputable contractor.
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