Rafters going up

This is the start of the third week of construction and our aim is to have the roof structure on building 851 finished by Saturday.

We started today with putting in the rafters on building 851, these are inserted into the hazel weave of the walls and will be bent into place later on this week. The rafters were axed down first, this helps them locate into the gap left where the woven hazel goes around the wall stakes.

Rafters going in.

Rafters going in.

Meanwhile we had a team experimenting with constructing building 848, this involved initially creating a tripod of poles and then laying others in. Three poles were lashed together loosely at the top before being lifted into place, then two more were added to the structure.

The main poles go up on building 848 experiment.

The main poles go up on building 848 experiment.

A small woven wall is being built to allow rafters to be added, these will be slotted in to the wall stakes.

The top binding on building 547 has also been started, this will lock the wall structure together and allow us to try a variety of different roof constructions.

The binding around building 547.

The binding around building 547.

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The walls of two buildings are up to height.

We now have the walls on two buildings up to the required height.
With the weather threatening to close in by lunchtime we managed to complete a standard weave to finish the last quarter of building 547. The walls will be brought up to level next week and then a top binding put on, with the next stage being the rafters.

The last quarter of building 547 up to height.

The last quarter of building 547 up to height.

Also today, in our workshop area we have been experimenting with roof construction. As part of our experiments we have been constructing a corner of a roof using bent rafters and woven hazel.

Experimenting with roof construction.

Experimenting with roof construction.

We also thought it would be nice to introduce some of our volunteers.

Barry driving in a stake.

Barry driving in a stake.

Briony moving some straw.

Briony moving some straw.

Building 851 – walls at finished height

Today we finished weaving the walls on building 851 and, as the buildings are being constructed on a slope, we have to make sure that the walls are level so that they will be ready to take the rafters next week.

Building 851 - walls at finished height.

Building 851 – walls at finished height.

We also finished the diagonal weave on the second quarter of building 547 which has allowed us to look at whether these walls are as strong as those that have been normally woven. We think that the resulting wall looks amazing in the spring sunshine.

A section of our diagonally woven wall.

A section of our diagonally woven wall.

Meanwhile, the chalk crushing carries on and the pile keeps growing and growing!

Focusing on walls

We focused today on the walls of the buildings.

We managed to get the quarter of building 547’s walls that we started yesterday up to the required wall height and found that the brash hasn’t affected the structure in any way, the wall is just as strong. We thought that the brash would bunch up in places and prevent the weave from being tight, leaving large gaps that would be difficult to fill with daub. This hasn’t been the case as the wall appears to be the same as the wall on building 851.
We also started another experimental wall section that involves the weave running diagonally up the wall. We are hoping to test whether this method results in a stronger or weaker wall.

We are trying different ways of weaving the walls.

We are trying different ways of weaving the walls.

A closer view of the wall.

A closer view of the wall.

We have almost finished the walls on building 851 with only the binding at the top of the wall to go on, this should be completed tomorrow allowing us to move onto the roof construction next week.

A cold wind.

There was a freezing northerly wind whipping across the site today, although, the sun was out.

We had the thatching material delivered yesterday, 260 bundles of wheat straw. This will be our main roof covering for building 851 as we will be trying several different thatching materials on building 547.

260 bundles of wheat straw.

Some of the 260 bundles of wheat straw.

Much to everyone’s delight there is still a large pile of chalk to crush, however, today it proved to be a better option to be slightly sheltered by the walls around the area we are using to crush chalk than be weaving out in the bitterly cold wind!

Crushing chalk was the better option today!

Crushing chalk was the better option today!

We also started the experiments on the first of the quartered sections of building 547. This involves using coppiced hazel with brash on (brash is when you leave all of the side branches on the hazel). We are trying to test the theory of whether it is necessary to cut off the brash, as we do now, or leave the brash on to see if it helps the daub adhere to the walls.

A section of wall using hazel with the brash still on.

A section of wall using hazel with the brash still on.

End of the first week of construction

It’s the end of the first week and we have made fantastic progress so far. When we started on Tuesday there was just some marks on the ground and five days later we have definite buildings emerging.

Wednesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Thursday

Friday

Friday

Saturday

Saturday

We have been working today on building 851, steadily weaving the walls. The challenge has been to twist the hazel rods around the door posts to lock them into the structure. Some of the wall posts are offset and so weaving around them has been tricky, this lead to the hazel rods making cracking sounds as they bent, we were assured that this is ‘just the fibres’!
As can be seen from the photos we are well on the way to having the walls completed by the end of next week.

Twisting hazel to secure door posts.

Twisting hazel to secure door posts.

The walls of building 851 are growing.

The walls of building 851 are growing.

Raining again!

The rain was falling heavily on the drive in to Old Sarum and we wondered how many volunteers would turn up this morning………..Amazingly everybody did, even after three days of pounding chalk. Interestingly it appears that everyone has their own idea of the most efficient way of getting the job done.

The chalk crushers at work!

The chalk crushers at work!

We have various pounders in use, some made from large pieces of wood and others made from metal, each volunteer has their own favourite, with some becoming so attached to their pounders that they even name them! The consensus seems to be that if you use the wooden pounders aggressively you produce more crushed chalk in a shorter time, but end up breaking the tools. However by being less aggressive you preserve the tools but it takes longer to produce the same amount.

The ever growing chalk pile.

The ever growing chalk pile.

On the rest of the site we have finished placing all of the stakes on building 851 and have started weaving the walls. In our workshop area we have also been practicing the different weaving methods that we will be using on building 547.

Building 851 with the last stakes laid out. Photo by Briony Clifton

Building 851 with the last stakes laid out. Photo by Briony Clifton

The first layers of wall are in. Photo by Briony Clifton

The first layers of wall are in. Photo by Briony Clifton

PS. We found two more toads in the chalk pile today!