Chalk crushing starts again!

We have made amazing progress with the daubing on building 851 and, as a result of us using a large amount of chalk in the daub, we have had to start on the chalk crushing again. Much to everyone’s delight!

The ever shrinking chalk pile.

The ever shrinking chalk pile.

Building 848 has been progressing nicely with the team adding to the hazel weave on one side and added more bands on the other. We are now working on creating a sheltered doorway. After this has been completed we can start on covering the roof.

Wendy, Bob, Lisa and Les constructing the doorway on building 848.

Wendy, Bob, Lisa and Les constructing the doorway on building 848.

The progress made on building 848.

The progress made on building 848.

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Press day

We have been visited by various members of the media this morning, filming for tv and live broadcasts on the radio, with many of our volunteers having a starring role. It was great to see the interest that this project is creating.

On building 851 today, we have been continuing to apply the chalk daub, we now have covered approximately a third of the total wall surface. As a consequence our chalk pile has been reduced considerably!

Harald and Trevor apply the chalk daub.

Harald and Trevor apply the chalk daub.

A completed wall section.

A completed wall section.

Meanwhile on the roof of building 851 our thatching teams have been busy adding more layers, it has been lovely up on the roof in the sunshine today!

Janey and Gareth putting on more layers of thatch in the sunshine.

Janey and Gareth putting on more layers of thatch in the sunshine.

We are starting to apply daub

Most of the volunteers have spent their morning preparing the thatch ready for the roof of building 851. We are using the wheat straw on the roof as quickly as it can be prepared!
After lunch they moved on to daubing a large section of wall around the door using the crushed chalk from earlier in the project.

Suzanne applies the daub to the wall of building 851.

Suzanne applies the daub to the wall of building 851.

As building 848 is also having experimental sections of roofing material applied, the structure underneath is being constructed using two different methods. We are weaving hazel completely up one side of the structure and weaving bands of hazel on the other. This reflects the different types of material that are being used to cover it.

The woven section of building 848.

The woven section of building 848.

Using the crushed chalk

We have finished a section of daub on building 547 today.
Using some of the chalk that we had crushed mixed with some chopped straw and water. this was applied to the woven wall under the section of thatched roof that we finished last week. We think that it looks amazing!

The chalk daub on building 547.

The chalk daub on building 547.

We also added extensions to the bottom of the roof of building 851 to create an eave that will allow us to start on the thatching tomorrow. The eave creates a rain shadow to protect the daub from the weather.

The eave fitted to building 851.

The eave fitted to building 851.

We also took down the test structure for building 848. This is now being rebuilt over a marked out floor section with the main poles and ring beam being fitted.

Richard fits the top ring beam to building 848.

Richard fits the top ring beam to building 848.

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!

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.

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!