A drystone seat not only offers a comfortable place to relax in the garden, but also a small enclosure with shelter from the wind. Each construction is built in natural stone and is an unusual combination of art and craft. Some designs can be incorporated into existing garden walls, but a freestanding garden seat can often have the greatest visual effect. If well designed, the impact of what is built can be stunning. Two things are required – a technical ability to build in drystone and, more importantly, an artistic ability and a good eye. In the 18th century, garden features or follies were designed to provoke interest and draw the viewer further into the landscape. The view from a house would offer enticing glimpses of unusual designs, often in the form of a stone seat.
The basic ideas for some of the seating designs have come from Nigel’s farming background – a small enclosure built by some intrepid farmer in Norway to channel unwilling sheep in a certain direction or a curved buttress in a burn to divert water from an eroding bank.
Most of the seats have names and dimensions and are priced according to size. A small ‘cuillin’ can comfortably seat two and uses about 4 tons of stone. The actual seats are thick slabs of either hardwood or larch and a recess to hold a bottle of wine or a stone ledge for a glass can easily be built in.