THE ancient art of dry stone walling will be taught to a new generation following a surge in demand for the 5000-year-old craft which has come back into fashion.

Made by carefully selecting interlocking stones, dry stone walls are built without the need for mortar to bind the stones together.

The walls were traditionally used for the boundaries of fields and churchyards, but experts said they are growing in popularity as people look to have them as a garden feature. Dry stone waller Dr Richard Love, 76, hopes to inspire a younger generation to take up the “jigsaw” craft which he said is ideal for 20-30-year-olds who are looking to retrain.

A purpose-built site has been created at the Scottish Lime Centre Trust in Charlestown, near Dunfermline, Fife, where classes will be taught to preserve the ancient technique.

Dr Love gave up a 26-year long career in occupational medicine after discovering dry stone walling in 1995. The grandad-of-two from Broughton, Edinburgh, said the craft is eco-friendly using all-natural materials which come from the environment. He said: “It’s very interesting and practical. It’s like a mental jigsaw, you have to work out how shapes will fit together and the different orientations.

“Some people have an eye for it, but others don’t. It will give people the chance to socialise, learn a new skill and spend time outdoors.”

Dr Love said there are thousands of kilometres of stone walls across the country which will need to be repaired.

Students at the centre will be shown diagrams and will use different types of stone to build and then rip down walls and rebuild them. Before building the wall they will sort the stone into size and shapes for reconstruction – and will be shown how to construct a new wall as well as how to repair existing ones.

Dr Love added: “The courses will probably be ideal for people between 20 and 30 years old who are perhaps looking to retrain.

“Before, younger generations might not have known about it through normal education unless they lived on a farm.”