PEAK DISTRICT: Croatian roundhouse builds friendship between European nations

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Croatian and British dignitaries gathered in the Peak District to celebrate Croatia’s accession to the European Union through the shared tradition of dry stone walling.

Croatian assistant minister of culture Sanja Šaban and ambassador Dr Ivan Grdešic officially opened a new dry stone roundhouse beside the High Peak Trail at Parsley Hay as a symbol of our shared European heritage.

Known as ‘kažun’, the roundhouse is a gift of the Republic of Croatia, constructed by Istrian craftsmen using Peak District limestone in a style created 200 years ago by farm-workers.

The official opening ceremony was attended by Peak District National Park leaders and representatives of ECOVAST – the European Council for the Village and Small Town who supported the scheme – as well as the Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire Willie Tucker and the High Sheriff of Derbyshire Derek Mapp.

Culture minister Sanja Šaban congratulated the partners for sharing their knowledge and skills during the construction: “I’m so pleased to be here to celebrate with you through our shared traditions,” she said.

He paid tribute to Nenad Bicanic, emeritus professor of civil engineering at Glasgow University, who designed the scheme, and Branko Orbanic, specialist in dry stone wall restoration, who led the team of Istrian stone masons.

Peak District National Park Authority chair Tony Favell praised the teams from both nations for working together to create a building that was both beautiful and useful for shelter and education.

“It blends in magnificently with the surrounding countryside,” he said. “I’d like to thank the people of Croatia and their government for taking the initiative of gifting this wonderful building to us. We congratulate Croatia on their accession to the EU and to have this as part of their celebrations makes us very proud.”

The ceremony was marked by English folk dancing from the Winster Morris Men, Croatian folk dancing from the Derbyshire Dancers, and Croatian and English folk music from the String Ensemble and Senior Wind Band of Lady Manners School, Bakewell.

The building, which was at no cost to the Authority, used limestone from the nearby Once-a-Week Quarry and sandstone roof tiles from Wellfield Quarry, near Huddersfield. The stone was sourced by a local business, Natural Stone Sales of Rowsley.