Stunning traditional cairn built by hand on Suffolk beach

Henry Fletcher has created a coralline cairn on Thorpeness beach, created from rocks collected duri

Henry Fletcher has created a coralline cairn on Thorpeness beach, created from rocks collected during stormy weather - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

A traditional stone structure, known as a cairn, has been crafted on a Suffolk beach. 

Henry Fletcher from Thorpeness has crafted one of the structures on the village's beach using local coralline crag stone. 

Thorpeness cairn

Henry Fletcher building the cairn at Thorpeness - Credit: Anna Lipska

Mr Fletcher creates experiences for people to learn about ecology and uses different practices such as writing, walking and storytelling to do that. 

Much of his work is based in Iceland, where he has a trail development project. Part of this work involves restoring cairns that have fallen down on old walking routes. 

Henry Fletcher in Thorpeness

Henry Fletcher built the cairn over several weeks - Credit: Anna Lipska

Traditionally, cairns are used as way-markers but can also be used in burials. 


You may also want to watch:


It was a combination of this work and recent stormy weather that led to the Thorpeness cairn.

"I started when the Beast from the East two hit," said Mr Fletcher.

Most Read

"Every day for about two weeks I was going down to the beach and collecting up the coralline crag that had been unearthed and revealed by the storm's energy." 

The rocks were all collected from the beach

The rocks were all collected from the beach - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Despite the weight of the heavy stones, Mr Fletcher was pleased with his final creation. 

"It was a relief to finish it," said Mr Fletcher. 

"At the same time I'm already missing not being on the beach so much.

"It's a nice combination of the work I've been doing in Iceland and giving it a local interpretation." 

Mr Fletcher said that the creation of the structure had proved a good distraction from a book that he is writing about his work in Iceland.

The cairn has garnered a lot of local interest. 

"It really surprised me," said Mr Fletcher. 

"I wasn't quite sure what I was going to build when I started building it but I had the idea of it being a space where people could have conversations about their relationships with the sea and their sense of place. 

"It has become that in a strange way.

"When I've been building it, I've had a lot of conversations with people walking past.

"It was a beautiful opportunity to meet local people."

Henry Fletcher has created a coralline cairn on Thorpeness beach, created from rocks collected duri

If you look hard enough, you will find a postcard tucked amongst the rocks with a message - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

The structure is in no way permanent and will eventually fall back into the sea. 

"The impermanence of it was something I definitely intended to incorporate into it," said Mr Fletcher. 

"I look forward to that moment when it is reclaimed."

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter