Level III – Advanced DSWA Certification

4.90 Level 3 Certification Test Overview:

Our 4.90 Level 3 Certification is the Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain (DSWA-GB)  Level 3 Certificate.  This is the second-highest level of certification offered by the DSWA-GB, whose Craft Certification Scheme had its inception in the 1970s and is the oldest certification system for dry stone wallers; the credentials are recognized throughout the world.

If you are thinking of taking this test call us at (802) 952-8600 to discuss options.

Note that this certification process involves two stages: Part A (pre-built features) and Part B (timed test), which must be applied and paid for separately. Part A must be passed before proceeding to Part B.

Part A:

The wall(s) submitted for assessment must be entirely the unaided work of the candidate, and must include examples of at least two different geologic types of stone (level bedded and either rounded or angular and irregular) and demonstrate at least two different styles of building (i.e., coursed and random).

The Level 3 Part A features can be built as part of a paid project for a client or in your own time at a site that is convenient for you.  You may also build them at a Stone Trust training site, which will require coordination with the Stone Trust.  Please contact workshops@thestonetrust.org for more information.

It is unlikely  that both of the features required for Part A will be contained within a continuous section of wall. Separate sections of wall can be submitted for assessment.  You should ensure that these are within reasonable traveling distance of each other so that the assessors can see them in one day.

The craftsmanship displayed throughout must be to a very high standard, well beyond what is required to pass Level 2. The features should reflect the best work you can do in a reasonable amount of time.

Each feature (and the associated wall) is marked out of 20.  The minimum passing mark for each feature is 13.5.  Since two features are required, the maximum possible marks for Part A is 40;  the minimum score required to pass Part A is 27 marks.

Understanding the Features:
Two features must be built for Part A of the Level 3 certificate.
One of these is a section of curved, free-standing wall. All candidates for Level 3 certification must build this feature.
For the remaining feature, you must choose ONE of the options from the list below headed “Second feature”.

 

Features for Level 3 certification

Compulsory Feature:    (This feature MUST be built)

5m2 (54 square feet) of freestanding curved wall. See notes below for guidance.

Second feature:    (choose ONE feature from this list)

  1. 5m2 (54 square feet) of freestanding double-faced wall going up) a 20˚or steeper slope
    • Foundations must be set stepped to follow ground
    • Correct number of steps in the foundation for the slope of the ground
    • Coursing and stones must be level
    • Neatly dressed stones that fit tightly together
    • Typically, two courses of throughs will be needed
    • The faces must be smooth and even (can be battered or vertical)
    • The length of the wall must run perpendicular to the slope
  2. 5m2 (54 square feet) of freestanding double-faced wall incorporating a lunky
    • Wall must be at least 54 square feet (5m2), measured on one side
    • The lunky opening must be at least 50cm (20 inches) high from the ground to the underside of the lintel and 50 cm (20 inches) wide
    • Lintel(s) must tie well back into wall on each side
    • Lintel(s) must be flush with face of wall
    • Cheeks must be vertical and contain at least one through
    • Walling above the lintel(s) must be continuous
  3. 5m2 (54 square feet) of tall freestanding double-faced wall
    • Minimum height of 1.8m (71 inches)
    • Appropriate number of courses with throughs (typically, two sets of throughs will be required), correctly spaced

The feature most commonly selected as the second feature is the lunky.  However any of the features can successfully be done for Part A.  Play to your strengths when making a decision.

Key Points for the Level 3 Part A Test:

  • Candidates must hold the DSWA-GB Level 2 certificate before applying to be tested for Part A of the Level 3 Certificate.
  • The features can be part of a paid project that you build for a client or you may build them in your own time at a location convenient for you.
  • Each feature is to be built within at least 5m2 (54 sq. ft.) of wall.
  • Part A must be passed before applying for Part B. 
  • If you fail Part A, you must reapply to be tested for this section and pass it (submitting the relevant fee each time) before you can take the Part B test.

Click Here for Upcoming Test Dates and Registration

 

Part B:

You must take the Part B test within one year of passing Part A. The part B test requires you to strip out and rebuild 4.5m2 (49 square feet) of retaining wall in a 7.5-hour period.

The wall must be built to a very high standard within the time limit.  The maximum possible score is 90 marks.  The minimum passing mark is 60 and a minimum mark must also be met for each of the test criteria.  Note that line and batter are very important in this test. You should be very familiar with the Craft Certification Scheme booklet produced by the DSWA, available here.

 

NOTE: YOU MUST WEAR REINFORCED TOE BOOTS TO TAKE THE TEST (STEEL OR COMPOSITE TOE).

Images of tests:

Below are images of several tests, some passing and some not, as noted.  The first 3 images are Jared Flynn’s passing Part A test features.

A very well built level 3 part A curve wall. The wall end at the left is not part of the test. This wall passed easily
A very well built Level III Part A curved wall.  The wall end at the left is not part of the test.
This wall passed easily.

 

A very well built level 3 part A lunkie. This wall passed easily
A very well built Level III Part A lunkie.  This wall passed easily.

 

The combined level 3 test part A wall. Click here for the mark sheet for this wall (three images above)
The combined Level III Part A test wall.   Click Here for the mark sheet for this wall (three images above)

 

The next three images are Brian Post’s first attempt at Part A.  This test wall did not pass as detailed in the captions.

 

Despite being quite well built this curve did not pass. The primary reason for the failing marks was that the batter was unequal on the inside and outside of the curve. The steeper batter on the inside of the curve resulted in the top of the wall being about 1" off center from the foundation. The examiners also felt that the throughstones were too far apart (3' apart on the inside of the curve ment that they were almost 5' apart on the outside, which was too far). The hearting was also not tightenough, there were a number of places light was visible through the wall in a number of places, particularly under the coverband and under 2 of the throughstones. There were some minor bulges and hollows on both faces of the wall for which points were taken off, and the examiners were also looking for each cope stone to have perfectly even height, not mearly averaging the same height.
Despite being quite well built this curve did not pass.  The primary reason for the failing marks was that the batter was unequal on the inside and outside of the curve.  The steeper batter on the inside of the curve resulted in the top of the wall being about 1″ off center from the foundation.  The examiners also felt that the throughstones were too far apart (3′ apart on the inside of the curve meant they were almost 5′ apart on the outside, which was too far).  The hearting was also not tight enough, light was visible through the wall in a number of places, particularly under the coverband and under 2 of the throughstones.  There were some minor bulges and hollows on both faces of the wall for which points were taken off, and the examiners were also looking for each cope stone to have perfectly even height, not averaging the same height.

 

This lunkie did pass but not by much. The bottom stones at the sides of the lunkie should have been longer to better tie the sides of the lunkie into the wall. The contact between some of the stones were also not the best and hearthing and copes could have used some improvement.
This lunkie did pass but not by much.  The bottom stones at the sides of the lunkie should have been longer to better tie the sides of the lunkie into the wall.  The contact between some of the stones were also not the best and hearting and copes could have used some improvement.

 

Brian's overall first pass at the level 3 part A test. The curve failed, the lunkie, passed, but an overall failure do to the curve.
Brian’s overall first attempt at the Level III Part A test.  The curve failed, the lunkie, passed, but an overall failure due to the curve.

 

The next 3 photos show Brian Post’s second successful attempt at the Level III Part A test, about 6 months later.  Brian rebuilt the curve and the entire coverband and cope, but did not rebuild the lunkie as that had passed.  The lunkie did have to be re-examined, but since it had passed there was no reason to rebuild it.

This second curve corrected the issues with the 1st curve. Despite the fustration of having to rebuild it, it was a good learning experiance and the resulting 2nd wall is noticably better in many ways.
This second curve corrected the issues with the 1st curve. Despite the fustration of having to rebuild it, it was a good learning experiance and the resulting 2nd wall is noticably better in many ways.

 

The inside face of the passing curve.
The inside face of the passing curve.

 

Brian's passing lunkie with rebuilt copes. The tail end of the wall to right was also rebuilt as it had been used for a lower level test between Brians first and second builds of this level 3 test.
Brian’s passing lunkie with rebuilt copes. The tail end of the wall to right was also rebuilt as it had been used for a lower level test between Brians first and second builds of this Level III test.

 

Photos of the Level III Part B test are below.

Part B tests for Level III are held outside at The Stone Trust Center.

Level 3 Part B test in progress. The test stint was stripped out and is just starting to be rebuilt. This t wall has two test stints in it.
Level III Part B test in progress.  The test stint was stripped out and is just starting to be rebuilt. This wall has two test stints in it. (Photo: Dan Snow)

 

Level 3 Part B test nearing completion. The test stint is between the bater frames. Another test frame is in the foreground.
Level III Part B test nearing completion.  The test stint is between the batter frames.  Another test frame is in the foreground. (Photo: Dan Snow)
Photos of the build of Brian Post’s Level 3 Part A test wall

Dry stone fence education and training
Ready to start

1st lift begun dry rock wall test
1st lift begun

Curve foundation stones
Curve foundation stones

Lunkie built in dry rock wall
Lunkie built

1st lift dry stone wall DSWA test level 3 curve
1st lift

Level 3 DSWA dry stone wall part a test in progress
Through stones on curve

Through stones on the curve
Through stones on the curve

Through stones over lunkie
Through stones over lunkie

2nd lift in progress
2nd lift in progress

Level 3 DSWA dry stone wall part a test in progress
Top of 2nd lift

Level 3 DSWA dry stone wall part a test in progress
Coverband on

Finished first try Level 3 DSWA dry stone wall part a test in progress
Finished first try

Photos below show the rebuild of the curve for Brian’s successful second taking of the test:

Level 3 DSWA dry stone wall part a test in progress
Foundation course beginning

Level 3 DSWA dry stone wall part a test in progress
Setting Foundations

Setting through stones
Setting through stones

Level 3 DSWA dry stone wall part a test in progress
Through stones

Level 3 DSWA dry stone wall part a test in progress
Curve in progress

2nd lift
2nd lift

Ready for copes
Ready for copes

Completed 2nd try
Completed 2nd try