Coursed walls are those built in distinct layers, of similarly sized stone.

Regularly Coursed Walls


Regularly coursed walls which require particularly regular stone are far more common as garden and estate walls than as field walls. This garden wall at Butterton, Staffordshire illustrates stones laid in distinct layers, with each layer thinner than its predecessors.

Random Coursed Walls

Random coursed walls are very similar to regularly coursed walls, differing only in the fact that subsequent courses are not necessarily thinner than the preceding ones, generally occurring on walls where most of the stones are of a very similar thickness.

PHOTO G, Coldwall Reservoir, Lancashire, sandstone 102" inc cope c.7" stones

Here the stones are virtually all 61/2" - 71/2" (16 - 19 cm) thick, and without close inspection it can be difficult to determine that it is indeed random coursed.

The distinction is perhaps more marked in this example.


This garden wall, in Chilson, Oxfordshire, is oolitic limestone, around 56" high including a c.9" cope.

Here most of the courses are around 2" (50 mm ) thick. However there is more grading of the stone with some thicker courses nearer the base and thinner courses nearer the top. This is a fine, but important distinction determined by the relative sizes of stone within the wall <<SIMILAR TO THE PERCENTAGE DIFFERENCE WOTSIT WITH RANDOM MENTIONED ABOVE>>. The 3" (75 mm) stones in the Chilson wall are literally twice the size of the 11/2" (38 mm) thick stones in the same wall) whereas in the Coldwall Reservoir wall there is very little difference in the size of stone, to be the same pattern as the Chilson wall it would require some courses to be around 9-10" (22-25 cm) thick and others 4-5" (10-13 cm) thick.

In both cases the difference in size between any two adjacent courses is marginal. Whilst the courses in some mortared walls will vary considerably, similar stone would tend to be used to construct a more graded, regularly coursed dry stone wall.

PHOTO I -BS Masonry Random coursed

<Coursed Rubble

Whilst most coursed dry stone walls are built out of reasonably regular stone, coursed rubble walls, such as this example from Cwm Ystraddlyn near Porthmadog, North Wales can be found.

<<PHOTO J>><

Here there is much more variation in stone size within any course than for more regular stone. Dips between stones are either levelled with small thin stones or utilised for fitting thicker stones in the next course, similar to the method employed for cloddiau (p.xx). <<YOUR EARTH etc. p.8.12>>. As with cloddiau whilst the coursing is normally visible when looking directly at the wall's face it is often far more distinct when viewed from an angle.

The subtle differences in both random and coursed walls means that there can be a blurring or merging of types within either random or coursed or even between coursed and random themselves. For example at the extremes of the ranges of random brought to courses and coursed rubble the difference is often just attributable to the skill of the waller. There is however one fairly distinct style of walling which combines elements of both coursed and random walling, and can only really be described as coursed random - not to be confused with random coursed.

<<PHOTO K, Longridge Fell, Forest of Boland , Lancashire c.53" including 8" cope>>


Essentially this is a random wall, built of relatively blocky, regular shaped stone. This is very similar to `random built to courses` in that it might occasionally have a distinct course where it has been levelled off. However the nature of the stone is such that any section of face contains short courses, which are broken by "jumpers" (see p.xx )<<THIS CHAPTER>>, and a general lack of overall pattern to the coursing itself.

A similar pattern can be seen in this wall <<ASSUMING ANYONE CAN MAKE HEAD OR TAIL OF THIS PHOTO>> near Dunbeath, in the Scottish Highlands.


Here the "coursing" is less distinct and the wall assumes more of a random appearance. As with all patterns there is some merging at the extremes accentuated by the regularity or irregularity of the stone used. Whilst regular stone tends toward coursed or more coursed work it does not have to be strictly coursed, and it is worth mentioning two `masonry definitions` which whilst rare in their purest form as far as dry stone walling is concerned will occur to some extent (hopefully excluding the running joints in the squared random rubble uncoursed) as the use of regular shaped stone tends towards random rather than coursed.
<<PHOTO M&N - BS squared random rubble snecked also McAfee p.45 PHOTO BS squared random rubble uncoursed>>