Earth Building Workshop with Solway Wetlands.

Clay Dabbin Build Project – Skills Workshops


The Solway Wetlands Landscape Partnership Scheme is constructing a Clay Dabbin building at the RSPB Campfield Reserve, Bowness-on-Solway.

Clay Dabbin is the traditional vernacular construction method on the Solway. The method uses clay and grit extracted from the building locality, mixed with straw and built up in shallow layers separated by more straw. The key difference from other earth building methods found in the UK is the continuous build process, without drying out periods between layers (on the Solway there is a good chance your layer would be washed away rather than drying!).

Our building will consist of a drystone wall plinth on which the clay dabbin walls will be constructed, an oak frame roof structure and topped off with a heather thatch roof. Once finished the building will house an exhibition explaining the history and significance of the Solway Clay Dabbin vernacular.

We have lots of opportunities to get involved in the building of the clay dabbin including skills workshops, however we are working on the building most days so please get in touch if you would like to join us.

Heritage Building Skills Workshops

Clay Dabbin Building       -              Sun 5th June                                        10:00 – 16:00 (12 places)

Clay Dabbin Building       -              Wed 8th June                                      14:00 – 20:30 (drop in)

Clay Dabbin Building       -              Mon 30th May – Fri 3rd June         08:30 – 17:30 (drop in)

Please ring or email to let us know you are coming to one of the drop in sessions

Drystone Walling              -              Sun 3rd July                                         10:00 – 16:00 (6 places)

Heather Thatching           -              Sun 10th July                                       10:00 – 16:00 (6 places)

There are also opportunities to get involved in researching and curating the exhibition to be housed in the finished building. We will be telling the story of the clay dabbins of the Solway Plain, their history, distribution the risks to the surviving buildings and the technology of the build process.


In addition to building the Clay Dabbin the Solway Wetlands Landscape Partnership are also hosting and supporting the Earth Build UK and Ireland (EBUKI) conference – Clayfest – on the Solway. Clayfest will run from 18th – 23rd July and again there are lots of ways you can get involved.

Schools day                        -              Mon 18th July                     Open day for local schools

Workshops                         -              Tue 19th Thu 21st               Wide range of earth build techniques

Conference                        -              Fri 22nd                                  Earth building explored

Public day                            -              Sat 23rd                                 Open day, explore the workshops


For more information on Clayfest please see

The Solway Wetlands Landscape Partnership has a number of bursaries available to attend the full Clayfest programme please get in touch for more information.



Chris Spencer

Learning and Community Officer

Solway Wetlands Landscape Partnership

Solway Coast AONB Unit

Allerdale Borough Council

Liddell Street, Silloth on Solway

Cumbria, CA7 4DD

T: 016973 33055

M: 07747 532514






Allerdale Borough Council
Allerdale House, Workington, Cumbria, CA14 3YJ

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 Images attached
Clay Dabbin.

Applying Mixture to Foundations.

1st Layer application work.