Plans foot for dry stone wall maze in Dalby Forest

PUBLISHED: 01:16 10 October 2011 | UPDATED: 20:07 20 February 2013

Plans foot for dry stone wall maze in Dalby Forest

Plans foot for dry stone wall maze in Dalby Forest

One man's dream to pay tribute to some of our most skilful craftspeople; is not far from becoming a reality

The print version of this article appeared in the October 2011 issue of Yorkshire Life

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Mark Ellis has a vision. of a giant dry stone wall maze in the heart of Dalby Forest, in North Yorkshire. And the Forestry Commission is happy to help by giving over 3,440 hectares (8,600 acres) to the scheme.

But Mark, from Farndale, has to raise 600,000 to pay for the maze, although planning is well advanced. Already 300 tonnes of stone has been donated, but in total 4,000 tonnes will be needed. The maze, measuring 80 square metres, will have six foot high walls and take two masons plus a couple of apprentices three years to build. To keep people guessing the layout will be altered over time, keeping the puzzle fresh.

According to experts, dry stone walling was perfected during the Neolithic period and examples dating back to 600BC have been identified in Swaledale. In more recent times they have been appreciated for their art as well as their usefulness.

Mark, 47, returned to his North Yorkshire roots from London 19 years ago, leaving behind a career in advertising and design to seek a better quality of life. He began by milking goats in Farndale and then got into walling, learning from local craftsmen.

The maze is a huge undertaking, said Mark who is originally from Norton and studied at Scarborough and York art colleges. Its been buzzing around my head for 12 years and although I didnt have Dalby in mind when came up with the idea, as it turns out its a great place for a stone maze. Lurking unseen among the trees it adds yet another layer of mystery. Lifting and shaping 4,000 tonnes of stones will be a heck of a slog, but a great attraction in itself for passing visitors. It will be a showcase for the ancient art of dry stone walling.

Petra Young, from the Forestry Commission, said they were really keen to see the idea become a reality. She added: The maze combines fun, craftsmanship and art and it will also help train apprentices who are the dry stone wallers of the future. We like to think everything is bigger and better in Yorkshire. And what better way to prove it that with a wonderful maze and another fantastic feature for Dalby.

Woodland experts

The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands.

How you can help

The proposed maze will be located in the heart of Dalby Forest near Dixons Hollow. Forest chiefs are approaching funding bodies to raise the cash and anyone inspired by the idea can contact Petra Young on 01751 472771, or A scale model can be seen in the Dalby Forest Visitor Centre.

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