Stone Mad: Dry Stone Construction

STONE MAD: UPDATE –Extension Nomination for Dry Stone Construction

       As an update to my article from last Spring, Stone Mad: A Conversation with Ken Curran, I wrote that the DSWAI was compiling documentation and recommendations to be submitted to UNESCO for listing of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity: The Art of Dry Stone Construction, Knowledge & Techniques. Below is a news release provided by the DSWAI and with permissions to reprint.

New Nomination on an Extended Basis for UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity: Art of Dry Stone Construction, Knowledge & Techniques
We are delighted to let you know that the extension nomination for Dry Stone construction was signed and delivered to UNESCO last week. Thank you to every one of you who submitted letters of support, images and videos.

Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Ireland and Luxembourg have now officially applied to UNESCO to join Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland in the multinational inscription of Dry Stone Construction, Knowledge & Techniques on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Representatives from each of the 13 Countries met on  29th March 2023, at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris to officially sign and submit the nomination file to UNESCO. The nomination file will be evaluated by UNESCO in a procedure lasting over one year, with the announcement of UNESCO’s decision expected in late 2024.

This multinational nomination file has been prepared through the cooperation of each of the 13 countries in consultation with the bearers of dry stone construction, relevant experts, NGOs and public bodies, who wish to collectively achieve further international recognition of this key element of living heritage and who are committed to work together to safeguard the practice for future generations. The UNESCO Representative List is intended to promote visibility, awareness, protection and appreciation of the diversity of cultural heritage internationally.

Dry Stone Construction
Dry Stone Construction is the practice of building with stone without the use of binding material. An innate understanding of geometry and gravity is required, alongside the skills that develop over many years of handling the raw material that the communities retrieve from their immediate surroundings.

Dry stone construction is achieved through the careful selection and arrangement of stones to ensure long-term stability of the structure and adaptation to the local terrain. A few simple tools are required to practice the craft – a hammer, a steel bar, a pick, a shovel, and a string line.

Dry stone construction is a sustainable practice which is closely linked to many aspects of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development including sustainable industry, innovation and infrastructure (SDG7); sustainable cities and communities (SDG11); life on land (SDG15); and, as a direct contributor to the protection of biodiversity (SDG15).

UNESCO 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage
The UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage was established in 2003 to safeguard, appreciate, and raise awareness of cultural heritage locally, nationally, and internationally. Intangible cultural heritage refers to customs, traditions, crafts, games, and practices that are part of people’s lives and identities both individually and as part of wider communities, and that are passed on from generation to generation. The text of the Convention can be found at

*John Digney is an Artist /Designer who received his BFA in Industrial Design from the Cleveland Institute of Art. He was raised in the Cleveland neighborhood of Westpark near Kamm’s Corner, and he and his wife Kathleen, now reside in Greenville, SC.  John can be reached at [email protected]

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