Behaviour of drystone retaining structures

C Mundell, Paul F McCombie, A Heath, J Harkness, P Walker

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Drystone walling is an ancient form of wall construction, used worldwide wherever there is an abundance of raw building materials. However, very little research has been conducted on these structures, making their analysis difficult. As part of an ongoing investigation, four full-scale drystone retaining walls were built and tested to failure in a bespoke outdoor test laboratory. Through the course of the testing, the distinctive bulge patterns that are found in many in situ walls were successfully recreated. This paper describes the set-up of the test laboratory and instrumentation used, in addition to the proceedings of each wall test. Initial findings of the project tests and a discussion regarding the underlying reasons behind bulging in drystone walls are presented.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-12
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers-Structures and Buildings
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2010


  • masonry
  • retaining walls
  • brickwork
  • geotechnical engineering


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