Stone Barn

I’m going through my photo archives these days. I realize I have a wealth of building photos accumulated over a 50+ year period. I can’t recall where I shot this; it was somewhere on the several trips I took through Ireland and England in the ’70s. I was on a journey to study real building, after giving up on geodesic domes. Going from mathematically derived buildings, often built with highly processed materials, to studying construction methods based on local materials, site-specific experience, and fine craftsmanship was a revelation.

This stone barn, for example, is almost unreal in its simplicity and master masonry — both in the walls and stone (slate?) roof.

Note: See the wonderful thread of comments below.

BTW, I’m in a new mode these days of trying to put up blog and Instagram posts at least 5 days a week. I’ve sure got a lot of “content.”

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

11 Responses to Stone Barn

  1. Since it’s a B&W photo I’m guessing it’s a Cotswold stone building – my home region of England, part of the limestone belt that slants across the south of the country.

    The roof is made of a similar stone to the wall. In Oxfordshire they’d often be called “Stonesfield slates” from the village near the quarries, though they aren’t slate in the grey Welsh sense. A bit further west into my own county of Gloucestershire they’d be called stone tiles or Cotswold stone tiles, though they’re not tiles in the fired earth sense.

    It’s worth noticing how the tiles are graded in size, and there are traditional names for the different sizes.
    The tiles are quite valuable, being not easy to replace, though there are moulded substitutes available.
    Here’s a poem about them

    Cotswold Tiles by Edward Berryman 1931

    The finest roofs in all the land are made from Cotswold stone,
    And the mason gives each tile a name like children of his own.
    By length and breadth the tally runs, by width and depth and size,
    And the mason knows them all by name, for he is very wise.

    Long Day, Short Day, Moreday amd Muffity,
    Lye-byes and Bottomers, each a name receives:
    Wivett, Beck, and Cussomes, Cutting, Third and Bachelor,
    Smallest under roof-ridge, largest over eaves.

    Each tile in its own special place is hung with loving care,
    And they weather down the ages in the mellow Cotswold air;
    Twenty-six in all there are — the family’s not small,
    I can but tell you one or two, I can’t remember all.

    Long Day, Short Day, Moreday amd Muffity,
    Lye-byes and Bottomers, each a name receives:
    Wivett, Beck, and Cussomes, Cutting, Third and Bachelor,
    Smallest under roof-ridge, largest over eaves.

  2. Thanks so much, Tom. One of the reasons I love Lloyd’s blog, apart from the generally interesting and entertaining content, is that you often get a highly informative comment from someone who really knows what he/she is talking about. I had no idea that masons had special names for all the different sizes of stone tile. I wonder how the tiles are fixed to the rafters? There is no point in having tiles that last for centuries if the fasteners rust out in ten years.

  3. No earthquakes, no floods, no wildfires. However, there are occasional incursions by Welsh cattle raiders, hence the arrow slits in the barn.

  4. Hi Gents,
    Yes, there haven’t been any of those sorts of natural disaster round here for a long time, I’m glad to say. Nor Welsh raids! 😉

    Traditionally the tiles are fixed by an oak peg through a hole near the top of the tile.

  5. Tom, Thanks so much! Undoubtedly the Cotswolds. I spent a lot of time in Mapledurham, a small village on the Thames near Pangbourne in the early ’70s. Friends of mine, the Geraghty brothers, had rented (and were fixing up) the miller’s house. It was a perfect small English village, with the manor, the church, the mill (abandoned, but standing), the alms houses, the post office, etc.. It hadn’t been discovered yet. (I’m sure every building there now is in the million $$ range). I’m sure it’s been used as the locale for movies. But then, it was quiet, and a perfect place for me to reflect on the art and craft of true building; it was a history lesson in person. A lot of photos in our 1973 book Shelter are from those trips, including beautiful Cotswold fences built with drywall stone masonry.

    Side note. While I was there, I read, for the first time, The Wind and the Willows, sitting in a chair, looking out at the flint and cobstone building across the road. The next estate to Mapledurham, on a walking/bike path into Pangbourne was the setting for the book. The character of the foppish Mr. Toad, who drove a car recklessly, was based on an actual squire of the estate in years past, who had purchased one of the first motor vehicles. The current squire was a friend of the Geraghtys, and came over for dinner one night.
    I have a wonderful collection of books on English building — masonry, half timber, carpentry, thatching. Sadly, I seldom run across anyone who is interested these days.

  6. Thanks to Google Street View It is very easy these days to go back to the places of your childhood. This is usually a mistake. I grew up in a small English village to the south of London. I remember the small, mixed farms that surrounded it and the local garage/blacksmith’s shop where the owner spent most of his time fixing broken agricultural machinery until that memorable day when he tried to weld a gas tank and exploded himself.

    I took a look at the village in Street View recently. The garage/blacksmith shop is now a Porsche dealership and the small mixed farms seem to be concentrating on breeding racehorses or pedigree sheep. The only grocery store in the village has been repurposed as luxury housing and there hardly seems to be any way of buying anything there that real people actually need.

    I would hate to live there now!

  7. The last earthquake to happen in the Cotswolds was probably the Romans.

    one of my fondest memories…

    At Christmas of 1981, I took a train from London’s Paddington Station to the tiny village of Bleddington in Gloucestershire. My final destination was Stow On The Wold, where a friend lived with other artists in a rather stately mansion at the outskirts of the village.

    The train arrived sometime during mid evening. Five inches of new snow had fallen. I’d brought my bicycle. But the snow made cycling impossible and I started walking the four miles to Stow. I left the tiny village and entered the gently undulating Gloucestershire hills. For ten miles around, very few lights could be seen. There was only a perfect blanket of untouched snow. A huge moon lit the scene as if it were still daylight. Nothing moved anywhere. The Gloucestershire landscape had become absolutely silent. I recall feeling so at peace with the world while strolling through night’s frozen silence, and I slowed to a crawl to have the walk last as long as possible.

    I have spent a few days cycling around the villages within ten miles of Stow. Upper Slaughter, Lower Slaughter, Evenlode and etc. Great names all. Re the architecture, there does not seem to be a stone out of place, and to think they all have names!

    After 90 minutes, and near Stow, a car came by and the driver attempted to climb a steep hill to the village. The fellow was determined. Only after he worn out two rear tires in as many minutes and produced an ungodly amount of noise in the process, did he start walking.

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