I am often asked "How do you know when a wall is well built" The four walls photographed below, have all been called nice walls. Nice is defined as "Giving pleasure or satisfaction, pleasant or attractive." A definition that fits all four, but only two are well built.
There are a few basic principles to building a sound, structurally integral dry stone wall, which can be seen here
When we review the first four photos. All the joints are crossed in this wall. No small pinning stones placed in the face, or outside of the wall
Whereas, with this wall. The blue lines indicate where the joints are not crossed (running joints) Numerous small stones pushed into the face, which compromises the integrity of the wall.
Here the length of the two stones circled in blue are along the face of the wall and not into the center of the wall. The heart of the wall is filled with gravel which has little to no structural integrity. The red circle indicates the area of the next photo.
This large stone has been placed on its edge, the inside face is convex, so any weight against that face will push the stone out
The same wall but a different place, the large white stone also placed on its edge has fallen over resulting in this collapse. Notice all the gravel pouring from the middle.
Once again with this wall (below) every joint is crossed, no silly little stones in the face. This wall is also aesthetically pleasing, large foundation stones grading to smaller stones at the top.
Believe me, the sadness of viewing your collapsing poorly built wall, will long outlast the perceived euphoria of its inexpensive build.
To recap. the first two photos show walls that have been built with pride for the craft of Dry Stone Walling
These two are built with nothing more than the thought of profit for the contractor.
Remember, it is not just the Wild West that is full of cowboys.