End of the fourth week

The re-tying of the roof on building 851 was completed this morning, allowing us to now weave all the way to the top. The weaving has been continuing and we are now about a third of the way up the rafters. We should see this part of the roof finished during next week.

Looking up at the southern end of building 851.

Looking up at the southern end of building 851.

On building 547 we have been fitting some of the ring beams to one of it’s quarters in preparation for the thatching to start. These are being fitted at regular intervals so that when the thatch is attached it creates a sufficient overlap, encouraging water to run off, rather than through the roof. As you can see from the photo we have been lashing the ring beams on with willow.

Paul, Briony, Janey and Richard attaching the ring beams with willow.

Paul, Briony, Janey and Richard attaching the ring beams with willow.

This is our last day before a well deserved Easter break, we will start back again next Tuesday, invigorated and raring to go.

More about roofs

We have been working on all three buildings today.

On building 848 we have been learning to thatch in a more traditional method, by tying the thatch to the roof. This is the first time that any of our volunteers had thatched and the results were very good, and to make things more interesting, we were also tying the thatch on with willow.

Tying the thatch to building 848.

Tying the thatch to building 848.

With building 851 we have been continuing with weaving the roof. We have also re-tied the ridge pole and adjusted the rafters, creating a more symmetrical roof.

The re-tied roof of building 851 with the facing southern side still to finish

The re-tied roof of building 851 with the facing southern side still to finish.

We took the birch rafters off of building 547 as they weren’t quite long enough to give the roof pitch that we need. We have replaced them with longer larch poles and are now going to test different construction methods on the quarters that we have created.

The main rafters in place.

The main rafters in place.

Starting on the roofs

The bitterly cold easterly wind was again blowing across the site today, we had hoped that it might have been warmer by now!

We have started to weave the roof on building 851, after securing the rafters last week. This has proven to be a tricky job as the hazel rods need to be woven in and out of the rafters that are already fixed at the ridge. When we constructed the walls we were able to lift the end of the rod up in the air which helped us bend it around the rafters. But with the rafters fixed to a ridge we have been unable to do this so it has involved some careful bending and threading to keep the hazel from breaking.

Bob and Claire weaving the roof structure.

Bob and Claire weaving the roof structure.

On building 547 we have started to construct the roof by installing four birch rafters. We achieved this by loosely tying the tops together in a cross shape and then, with a person on each rafter, we raising and then walking them into place on the walls. These were then bound onto the wall stakes with willow, this creates a strong joint that will allow us to experiment with various roof construction methods, which we hope to start in the next few days.

Walking the rafters into place.

Walking the rafters into place.

An overview

Today, with the cold wind and rain blowing across the site we have been sheltering in the barn sorting out the bundles of wheat straw in preparation for using them to thatch building 851. This meant that we didn’t work directly on the buildings today, we will start again on Tuesday, so I have included some photos progress that we have made over the last three weeks.

Stakes in the ground

Stakes in the ground.

The buildings emerge.

The buildings emerge.

 

The rafters go in.

The rafters go in.

 

The roof taking shape.

The roof taking shape.

 

 

Test thatching

After several days of designing structures for building 848, we have moved on to test thatching a section of the roof. We are making sure that we are happy with the method before we move on to thatching building 851.

Tim and Richard creating a lovely bit of thatching on Building 848.

Tim and Richard creating a lovely bit of thatching on Building 848.

Meanwhile, a second team has been practicing binding ring beams onto a section of roof on building 848. They have employed the binding methods that they learnt yesterday, in preparation for attaching the roof sections to building 547 next week.

A square lashed ring beam.

A square lashed ring beam.

Square lashed and a rose knot.

Square lashed and a rose knot.

We have also secured all of the rafters in place on building 851 and now have started to weave in a band of hazel around the top of the walls to lock the roof structure in place. We will be continuing this weave up the rafters to create a pitched roof that we can thatch to.

Knotting willow

Today, with the cold weather back, we started to think about how we are going to attach the roof structure to building 547. We are going to attempt to do this without any modern cordage, so we were shown how to make ‘rose’ knots using a willow withy. This was followed by a few hours of practice and it soon became clear that, like many practical skills, it isn’t as easy as some people make it look.

Rose knots formed from willow.

Rose knots formed from willow.

Experiments are still continuing on how to construct building 848, with another different type of structure being built. This one has four main rafters connected at the top with intermediate hazel poles laid in to create rounded ends.

Another test structure for building 848.

Another test structure for building 848.

Experimental buildings

After our experiments yesterday with the construction of building 848 we decided that we would try other variations on how the building could have been constructed.
One of today’s versions involves creating two ‘A’ frames with a ridge suspended between them and rounded woven end sections to stabilise everything. This would then be thatched to make it water tight.

The second day of experiments with building 848.

The second day of experiments with building 848.

Another group is creating hurdle type wall sections that can be arranged to create a temporary structure. Both of these methods have been designed by our volunteers using the available evidence, which is a beaten chalk floor with a hearth and no stake or post holes.

Janey and Nick experimenting with wall sections.

Janey and Nick experimenting with wall sections.

While these experiments have been going on, the building 851 construction team have been busy binding the rafters into the wall. They then raised a ridge pole above the building and started to bend in the rafters to meet it

The ridge pole in position.

The ridge pole in position.

We were surprised that with these activities going on there seemed to be very little interest in crushing chalk!