The projects providing knowledge in „Traditional Masonry Techniques” are thematically quite diverse. The projects are answering the needs of endangered heritage sites and so refer to the material traditionally used in the particular region, to the regional construction techniques and handcraft traditions.
The projects are alternating from season to season and may include the restoration of historical walls and wall systems of a heritage site, workshops in traditional plastering or in traditional paving techniques.
In several regions there are carried out projects in traditional dry stone wall techniques. Although the used material differs from region to region the traditional techniques are quite similar. Dry stone walls are constructed without mortar and had been common over centuries to strengthen steep slopes, so they are often remarkable characteristics of cultural landscapes. However, the dry stone walls are in many places endangered since the scarps had been fallen out of use, the construction, restoration and maintenance of dry stone walls is physically very demanding and the traditional knowledge among the local population gets lost step by step.
Additionally, European Heritage Volunteers offers sometimes projects about “Traditional Clay Techniques”. These projects are organised only every second year and focus or on traditional construction techniques using clay materials or on traditional clay plastering techniques.
In 2016, European Heritage Volunteers organised two projects dealing with “Traditional Masonry Techniques”:
The first project took place at Lohra Castle in Thuringia, Germany, one of the largest castles of Middle Germany with more than 1,000 years history. The ensemble consists of almost twenty buildings from the 11th to the 20th centuries, among them one of the very rare Romanesque double chapels, and is surrounded by several hundred meters of walls.
In the frame of the project damaged parts of the historical walls have been restored – the walls were documented stone by stone, the stones were taken away, a mortar mixture accordingly to the original mortar was prepared and finally the stones were returned to their original position.
The second project took place in the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, as a part of the project “Maintenance of a Cultural Landscape”. The Middle Rhine Valley is a fascinating landscape punctuated by more than forty castles and fortresses. For more than 1,000 years the step valley side have been terraced for vineyards. The dry stone walls between the terraces are partly fallen into decay since a lot of the former vineyards are currently out of use and the maintenance of the dry stone walls is physically demanding.
In the frame of the project in two regions of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley damaged parts of the historical dry stone walls were restored and additional knowledge about this traditional technique was provided to the participants.
The projects for 2017 are currently under preparation and will be announced from February on.