Monday, October 3, 2011

Stile over Style

A stile is a structure which provides people a passage through or over a fence or boundary via steps, ladders, or narrow gaps. Stiles are often built in rural areas or along footpaths to allow access to an adjacent field or area separated by a fence, wall or hedge. Unlike a gate, there is no chance of forgetting to close it, and should the stile break, the fence remains intact (livestock cannot escape). However, stiles may well be difficult to use for some disabled people and people with limited mobility.

We found this series of stone stiles in Cornwall this weekend while negotiating narrow footpaths with half-height doorways in the hedgerows, presumably for tall badgers or ferrel children.

I like the stile as an object because it is so concerned with function, it forgets the ridiculousness of it's form but in doing so blends seamlessly into it's environment; many of these Cornish stone versions could at a glance be accidental formations; rockfalls at convenient junctions - you're not sure whether the bit you're standing on is an intentional part of the design or a lucky stepping stone; most also have spaces or cavities between the stones which cater for dogs - cleverer than sheep in learning that they can go up, down, under, and over in that order.

Someone should tell them though, that the view on the other side really is this good.