Clayfest 2016

Clayfest 2016: Agrarian Earth: Earth Building’s relationship with land, tenure and society


The SPAB are pleased to be supporting Earth Building UK and Ireland (EBUKI) with this year's Clayfest, a week-long celebration of earth building. Held at the beautiful RSPB Campfield Marsh Reserve in Bowness on Solway, Cumbria, the week will include three days of hands-on workshops from 19-21 July, a conference on 22 July, and a tour of the local clay dabbin buildings on 23 July.


Running from 19-21 July, the hands-on workshops will be held at the RSPB Campfield Marsh Reserve, Bowness on Solway, Cumbria. Standard tickets are £75 per person per day. For professionals looking to add to their CPD, a professional tickets price of £100 is available, which includes a certificate of attendance. We are also offering discounted tickets of £50 for students/low-waged/unemployed - please contact for more details.

Click on the workshop title for more details and to book online, or download a BOOKING FORM.

Clay Dabbin Repair
During the Clay Dabbin repair workshop, we will undertake essential repairs and maintenance to a listed clay dabbin dog kennel, in line with SPAB philosophy and conservation principles. 

Clay Dabbin New Build

The Clay Dabbin new build workshop will cover all you need to know to create and construct your own mud walls and small structures from scratch. The workshop will be led by SPAB William Morris Craft Fellow and local Clay Dabbin specialist Alex Gibbons.

Earth Plasters

“From local soil to beautifully finished walls” - This workshop will take you through the process of creating beautiful earth plasters from your local subsoil and how to apply them to a range of substrates.

Rammed Earth

Come and make the most of the opportunity to build a rammed earth vault with Tasha Aitken, the first person to build a rammed earth vault anywhere, unless you know different, and with Rowland Keable.  It's only the second of it's type in the world, now you wouldn't want to miss that!

Further Workshop Information:

Catering:      Lunch NOT provided, please bring your own sandwiches, as there's no shop in the village.
Equipment:    Tools provided.  Please bring stout boots (ideally wellies), working clothes that can get dirty, gloves and lunch.
Plenty of parking available at Campfield Marsh, and in the village at Thurstonfield.
Camping available on-site (we ask that you make a donation to RSPB in exchange for their hospitality).
Other accommodation is available in the area - contact for more details.


Date:      22nd July 2016
Location:     Burgh-By-Sands Village Hall
Ticket Price:    £125 (Professional), £100 (Standard), £75 (Low wage / Student / unemployed)
Parking:      At Village hall / Village green / Pub

Agrarian Earth: Earth Building’s relationship with land, tenure and society

Keynote speaker: Peter Messenger, Clay Dabbins specialist historic buildings consultant / Former Carlisle Conservation Officer: Tenure and the Survival of the Cumbrian Clay Dabbin

Other confirmed speakers:

  • Alex Gibbons – Clay Dabbins specialist Craftsman / SPAB William Morris Craft Fellow.
  • Derek Lane – Mud & Stud in the East Midlands.
  • Claire Gott (MBE) - Charity 'Cameroon Catalyst': developing infrastructure projects in North East Cameroon to empower local communities
  • Karen Guthrie - 'Tomorrow, Today: An Earthen Artwork'
  • Daniel Postma - Regional variation in medieval turf houses in the clay and peat areas of the Netherlands
  • Camille-Hugo Fontenelle - Enerterre project: bringing together low-resourced and isolated families in rural France to create a network of volunteers trained in vernacular conservation technics
  • Chris Spencer
  • Stafford Holmes

A call for papers is now open for the conference. We’d like to encourage papers related to our thought-provoking topic of ‘Agrarian Earth’. Do you have specialist knowledge, experience or an interesting connection with Earth Building’s relationship to land, tenure and society that you could present to this conference? We’d love to hear from you! Please contact

Post – Conference Tours
On Saturday 23rd, out experts will be on hand to talk you through some of the mud building highlights throughout the Solway Plain…it’s your chance to pick their brains on new build and repair techniques! Tours are only available to those who attend either the workshops or the conference. More details available on booking.

Partners and supporting organisations:

UPDATE (10 June 2016): EBUKI regret that they have had to cancel the turf walling workshop that was originally advertised as taking place as part of Clayfest 2016. They apologise for any inconvenience and hope to see you at one of the other workshops instead.