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Stone troughs are a common feature in the Dales landscape. As many are moveable they are vulnerable to being taken for use as ornaments and features in private gardens. This is why we do not list detailed locations of troughs on this website.

What are they made from? 

Troughs were commonly made from gritstone or sandstone, often being carved from a single block of stone. They could also be constructed out of sheets of much thinner slate, bound together with iron staples to make them watertight. Troughs made from Helwith Slate can be found in many parts of the south west area of the National Park.

Why were they built? 

Most troughs were built for watering stock and are found both within and along the edges of fields. They can also be found in the enclosures attached to field barns where they held water for over-wintering cattle. Many troughs are set into field walls so that they can serve stock in two field. These often have a sandstone divider or bars across the middle.

Troughs are also found alongside roads and tracks. These may be fed by a natural stream or spring or a piped or culverted supply. Roadside troughs were meant for horses but were also used by sheep and cattle on the move.

Very large troughs were sometimes employed to 'ret' hemp and flax. Retting is the process of rotting of the plant stems to help separate fibres.

Why do they need recording? 

Stone troughs are becoming increasingly vulnerable to removal for use as garden features. They can be damaged by vehicles clipping them. The seals on many Helwith Slate troughs have failed and there are large numbers of disused or dismantled slate troughs. Sometimes a divider or bars will be present in a wall. Sometimes the stone trough will have been replaced by a galvanised one, a plastic one, or even a bathtub!

We aim to record all troughs of any condition, along with locations where troughs have been in the past.


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