To build anything more than a basic stonewall in a straight line – a feature for example, two things are required. A technical ability to build in drystone, and more importantly an artistic flair and a good eye. A good lunchbox also helps!
Stone would normally be brought in in trailer loads and then barrowed into position for building. The outline of the feature is first made on the ground. For an artistic feature this will take time – the exact angle of a single curve for example can take an hour or more to lay. The width of the wall at the foundation will also vary with the height of the finished wall at that point. The foundation stones are laid, and then the general building stone is laid out on both sides. Some kind of sheet is normally laid on the ground to protect it from muddy marks and debris of stone chips.
Starting from the foundations the feature slowly takes shape. If a seat is installed this is built into the wall at the right height. Once the shape has been laid out on the ground this has to be followed without the aid of a string line. A daydreaming dyker can build the most extraordinary shapes! Laying the copestones takes longest – this will determine the (vertical) outline of the shape to the naked eye. If one or two stones are slightly too high or low, this will change the whole visual perception of the feature.
The final part of the process is tidying up. Excess stone is removed and stored for future use.