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Yorkshire is the spiritual home of the dry stone wall, right?
Well that’s not enough for some folk who now want to give God’s own county another spectacular wonder - a giant dry stone wall maze!
The Forestry Commission is working with Mark Ellis, from Farndale in the North York Moors, to realise the vision in 3,440 hectare (8,600 acre) Dalby Forest, near Pickering.
A fund raising campaign has been launched to raise the £600,000 required, but planning is well advanced.
Already 300 tonnes of stone have been donated, but in total 4,000 tonnes will be needed. The maze, covering 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 usefulness.
Mark Ellis, 47, returned to his North Yorkshire roots from London 19 years ago, leaving behind a career in advertising and design and seeking 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. It’s been buzzing around my head for 12 years and although I didn’t have Dalby in mind when I came up with the idea, as it turns out it’s a great place for a stone maze. Lurking unseen amongst 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 drystone walling.”
Mark originally hails from Norton and studied at Scarborough and York art colleges before heading south.
Petra Young, from the Forestry Commission, added:
“We are really keen to see this brilliant dream become a reality. The maze combines fun, craftsmanship and art and it will also help train apprentices who are the drystone 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."
The proposed maze will be located in the heart of Dalby Forest near Dixon’s Hollow. Forest chiefs are approaching funding bodies to raise the cash and interested parties can contact Petra Young on 01751 472771, or firstname.lastname@example.org
A scale model can be seen in Dalby Forest Visitor Centre.
Note to Editor
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. For more on the Forestry Commission go to www.forestry.gov.uk/YorkshireandtheHumber
Media calls to Richard Darn on 0775 367 0038.