4 GRADA DRAGODID, dry-stone walling

06-suhozidi (6)

4 GRADA DRAGODID (short: DRAGODID) has been committed to the education and preservation of dry-stone wall heritage since 2007. This mission is accomplished through practical restoration workshops, research on the craft and its artisans, expert gatherings aimed at nurturing connections among practitioners, and the collection and mapping of both tangible and intangible elements of this tradition.

Name of Craft in the local language
Udruga 4 GRADA DRAGODID
Type of Craft
Education on the craft of dry-stone building
Knowledge Holder
Members of the organization (dry-stone experts, enthusiasts, experienced workshop organizers)
Location, Website
HQ: Put iza nove bolnice 5a, 21000 Split; Link to website
Contact
info@dragodid.org
Type of Business
Civil society organization, NGO
Year of Establishment
2007
Successors
Yes, the organization receives new members each year

Workshop and sales space
The workshops are held outdoors
Materials
Stone
Technology / Tools / Machines
Handheld containers for fine pieces of stone, manual tools for coarse stone shaping (hammer, sledgehammer, mallet ), larger tools for digging out the excess and fine pieces of stone (pick, hoe, shovel)
Techniques / Processes
Extracting excess stone from the ground, extracting stone blocks from rocks, loosening and straightening the top layer of soil in preparation for the foundation, constructing the foundation, wall building, stone carving, fine shaping of key stones
Members / Employees
1 employed coordinator, around a hundred members
Apprentices
Members who undergo a yearly training program to become instructors of educational workshops
Education of the Craftsperson
Learning from original practitioners of the skill

Best-selling product
Educational dry-stone walling workshops
Average time of production
The workshops can last between a few hours and a few weeks . On average, one meter of a typical two-faced dry-stone wall can be built in 30 to 45 minutes

Following the initiative by the organization DRAGODID, the craft of dry-stone walling has been recognized as an intangible cultural heritage of Croatia since 2016 and was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2018.

DRAGODID connects enthusiasts, hobbyists, professionals and scientists who are passionate about dry-stone walls. Annually, it offers a training program for workshop instructors, teaching dry-stone wall restoration and building—a new technique for many.

Over the past seventeen years, DRAGODID has undertaken several initiatives to promote and preserve dry-stone wall heritage. Highlights include the publication of a handbook ‘Building in Stone’ (Gradimo u kamenu), hosting a summer heritage school on Mountain Učka, organizing the Croatian Championships in dry-stone walling, and creating the geoportal Suhozid.hr. This portal acts as a digital archive for Croatian dry-stone heritage, where users can share photos, locations, sketches, and data about dry-stone structures. It also provides a platform for individuals and communities involved in researching and practicing the craft, as well as for those preserving the traditions of former and current builders.

 

Handbook 'Building in Stone' (Gradimo u kamenu) was printed in 15.000 copies (4 editions)

With headquarters in Split and an office in Zagreb, the organization’s activities extend along the coast, hinterland, and islands. It collaborates with areas of natural or cultural heritage, museums, NGOs, municipalities, and tourist organizations to organize various restoration activities and promote the dry-stone walling tradition. As a result, the number of collaborators and dry-stone hotspots has been steadily growing from workshop to workshop.

Annual workshops are held at various locations, including the old village of Kotor in Crikvenica, Velo Grablje during the Lavender Festival on Hvar, Silba during post-season, the village of Dragodid above Komiža, Bakarske prezidi in Praputnjak, Stari Grad Plain on Hvar, Mrgari in Baška, Lake Vrana, and others.

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    Workshop, Vrdovo, Dinara, September, 2022. Photo by Oleg Miklić

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    Workshop, Gea Viva, Brač, May, 2023. Photo by Mislav Tovarac

A dry-stone wall is constructed by first finding stones in the surrounding area, which are either dug out or extracted from larger rocks. A stable and flat surface, cleaned of soil and vegetation, is then chosen for construction. If an existing wall is being repaired, unstable parts must be removed to reach a solid foundation.

The two-faced dry-stone wall (uduplo) technique, characterized by its parallel construction on both sides with the gap between filled with small stones, is the most commonly used. The stability is ensured by smaller gaps between the stones, and the upper row is constructed only after the row below has been leveled with fine stone pieces (škalja). For the foundations, corners, and top, more regular stones are selected, and stones can be roughly chiseled as needed.

In the construction of a supporting wall, the same principle is applied, but with the distinction that the supporting wall has one face with the other side usually being soil, whereas single dry-stone walls (unjulo) are constructed from a single vertical layer of stones

Josip Marohnić, An Unusual Visitor to the Beach at Supetar, 1979; Andrija Orlić, Dry-stone Walls, 1972; Andrija Orlić, Dry-stone, 1987. Museum of Arts and Crafts, Zagreb: MUO 57875, MUO 40491, MUO 40509

The organization’s primary activities revolve around coordinating and hosting workshops, as well as conducting research in collaboration with local partners, original practitioners of dry-stone construction, and experts in regional traditions.

In 2023, the organization facilitated 37 educational workshops on dry-stone construction. Additionally, 23 volunteers contributed a collective total of 993 hours to a joint volunteer program focused on the restoration and construction of dry-stone walls. The organization hosted the 6th Croatian Dry Stone Wall Building Championship in Pag, in collaboration with local partners, with 11 teams comprising 43 participants from across the country. Throughout the year, dry- stone heritage was revitalized at 29 locations across Croatia, including islands, the coast, protected areas, and karst mountains. Funding for these activities was primarily secured from various European, national, and local projects, and supplemented by self-financing through the organization of educational workshops.