Egypt has its pyramids, India a Taj Mahal, and Peru can boast a Machu Picchu – but we must not feel left out when it comes to ancient built wonders because here in the Westcountry we have the stone banks.
Miles and miles and miles of them. They are the venerable, unsung heroes of our countryside.
But unlike those big-name relics to be found in other places, our ancient stone banks do not strut their antediluvian stuff. On the contrary, they lurk – often hidden under a vertical carpet of soft green moss.
Many have even been submerged altogether over the years and yet others will have spilt their innards – by which I mean the deep red sandstone soils which give the biggest clue as to their whereabouts.
Because you will not find the sort of stone walls I'm talking about on Dartmoor or Bodmin Moor or in West Penwith. Yes, these granite lands are rich in what are known as "stone-hedges" – and splendid, bold affairs they are too. You can even google the subject and learn how to build one, should you have big rocks at hand – which in sandstone country, you will not.
You'd be lucky to find any stone much bigger than a shoe-box in the red-lands of Devon and Somerset – so the wall builders of old learned how to arrange these in a vertical pattern for best retaining effect. Because that's what most of these old walls were designed to do.
Sandstone soils are very good at going walk-about – they slip and slide and run off down a stream – so the farmers of yore learned to build retaining banks and walls to keep the topsoil in its place.
There must be over a mile of such wall in my valley alone, and I for one love the warm look and touch of these remarkable, barely noticed, never discussed, relics of the landscape.