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Stanton Village - a watercolour by John Davis (c)
Stanton Village - a watercolour by John Davis©
Geologically the Cotswolds is a limestone mass stretching 100 miles SW by NE with Bath to the south and Chiiping Campden to the north. The 'wold' iis old English for 'upland common'.
These rolling hills are used mainly for sheep and arable farming. The local breed, 'the Cotswold' can produce a fleece in excess of 10 Kilos. At one time the area had half a million sheep and the wool trade with europe was significant. Flemish weavers were brought to England and the merchants became wealthier than King. Numerous fine homes and churches were built from the wealth of this trade. This trade lasted several centuries but when it was the human devastation was dreadful. It did mean however that the towns in the Cotswolds have been left undeveloped as can be seen at places like Chipping Campden. These are now preservation areas and the villages will remain as they were built many centuries ago.  


Cotswold Stone  

The famous stone which colours the landscape, the homes and the buildings is limestone, found commonly across England, but is dramatically demonstrated in the Cotswolds. Here the limestone is oolitic (egg-stone' in Greek), which is soft when first exposed and continues to harden on contact with the air - a perfect building material, that can be readily sawn on quarying. It was used extensively in the Middle Ages - the finest example being St Paul's Cathedral, London.


The Thatched and Stone Roofs 

Typical Cotswold Stone Roof

Homes in the Cotswolds reflect the countryside and the material available. In the past farmers needed thatchers for their corn and hay ricks. Whilst the art of thatching has changed little over the centuries it is now carried out by specialists. The thatcher still uses the tools they always used: mallet, for driving, needles for sewing the tarred string, reed-holder, for holding the bundles.


More commonly throughout the Cotswolds are the traditional stone slate roofs. These are found from Chipping Campden in the north to bath in the South. The stone are fixed to the roof by wooden pegs driven through the hole at the top of each slate.

These type of roofs are thought to last upwards of 200 years if kept in good condition and free of moisture and moss.

The slates are produced by storing the stone wet, by laying wet sacks over them. The split well naturally, but are thick, thus requiring oak beams in the roofs to support the weight.