Did you know in the main in Gloucestershire there are three types stone of stiles – step, squeeze and slab? Step stiles are not so common. For centuries they have provided access across field boundaries to locals walking along ancient pathways as they went about their business. Despite the historic value of these stiles scores of them have been abandoned and some lost forever.
Stone stiles are found in many areas of the county including in and around Stow-on-the-Wold. There are examples throughout Gloucestershire of the three types of stiles, however step stiles are rare. Perhaps you might spot one?
In 2020 Peter Wilson, a member of CPRE launched ‘The Stone Stile Project’. Peter has extensive knowledge of the history of stone stiles but was surprised to learn there was no comprehensive record of stiles in neither our county nor apparently elsewhere in the country. In association with CPRE and the Cotteswold Naturalists Field Club, Peter’s aim was have a record of every remaining stone stile in Gloucestershire before they were lost forever. Through support from these two groups and other keen walkers almost 450 stiles have been recorded but it’s known there are at least 100 more stiles yet to be mapped.
When you are out walking, if you spot a stone stile, or if you know of an existing stile, please photograph it, if possible from both sides. Download a Stile Recording Form by going to the CPRE website, https://www.cpreglos.org.uk/creating-a-record-of-gloucestershire-stone-stiles/ Please give as much information as possible before emailing the form to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Any ‘duplicate’ stiles are fine as you may have taken a better picture than one already on file.
With the many sightings of stiles across the county, Peter has now launched Phase 2 of the project. He is seeking help on a voluntary basis from local people with an historical knowledge of their own parish; also historians, geologists and archaeologist. The aim is to create a comprehensive record of the history of the stiles before some are ‘lost’ forever. If you can help with the next phase or have friends who can, please contact Peter.
The information received will then be made available to develop an interactive App. for the enjoyment of everyone who loves the countryside. There is no doubt this will encourage more people to explore our wonderful county adding to their enjoyment of country walks. It will also help wheelchair users and families with children in buggies to plan their walks.
If you would like to make a donation in support of The Stone Stile Project please go to the CPRE website where there is a ‘Just Giving’ page and more details on the Project.