Stakes in the ground

The start of the build is finally here and the volunteers have arrived on site raring to go. Our first job was to remove the top soil from where each building will be. The top soil is holding on to a lot of water making the site very muddy and so removing the soil will enable us to move around the buildings easier.

The topsoil removed from around where the buildings will sit.

The topsoil removed from around where the buildings will sit.

After setting out the buildings in the same alignment as they were from the archaeological evidence we began to drive stakes in. These will form the woven hazel walls that will eventually be daubed.

The first building's stakes go in.

The first building’s stakes go in.

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Almost ready to go!

The preparations for the build have begun with the transportation of all the harvested materials collected by our volunteers. Over the past week all of the hazel rods, stakes and rafters have been collected from Garston Woods and delivered to site.

Hazel waiting to be used.

Hazel waiting to be used.

The site itself is situated behind the new Stonehenge Visitors Centre and with all of the rain that has fallen in the last few months, we were concerned that it would be too wet to start. Fortunately the underlying geology is chalk and so there is a firm base into which we can drive our stakes. The site may become a bit muddy but we are hoping that it shouldn’t slow down the build. The last bits of infrastructure (portacabin, toilets, fencing etc.) are being set up and then we will be ready to go.

The area ready to be built on.

The area ready to be built on.

Final Day of Neolithic Activities

St. Edmund’s Church of England Girls’ School and Whiteparish All Saints Church of England Primary School had a lovely day taking part in the Neolithic Activities. Here are some pictures with pupils in action.

The children enjoying jumping on the hazel.

The children enjoying jumping on the hazel.

The children watching Paul blow on the embers.

The children watching Paul blow on the embers.

Carol, an English Heritage volunteer helping to collect flour.

Carol, an English Heritage volunteer helping to collect flour.

Bread being cook next to the fire.

Bread being cook next to the fire.

Whiteparish All Saints Church of England Primary School having a great afternoon.

Whiteparish All Saints Church of England Primary School having a great afternoon.

We would like to thank all the schools taking part this week in the different activities.

Thank you to:
• St Thomas a Becket Church of England Primary School
• Leehurst Swan
• Old Sarum Primary School
• Stonehenge School
• Osmund’s Catholic Primary School
• Wilton Primary Campus
• Downton Primary School
• St. Edmund’s Church of England Girls’ School
• Whiteparish All Saints Church of England Primary School

Also thank you to all the Ancient Technology Centre staff and volunteers in leading the sessions over the past 3 months.

Building 848

The evidence for this building in the original consists of a chalk floor with a hearth but no stake holes for the walls. This means that any structure that we build has to leave no trace.

The different thatching styles used.

The different thatching styles used.

The main structure consists of larch rafters with woven hazel ringbeams. One section of the building is completely woven hazel, this provides a base for the grass thatch to fix to.On the other sections we have experimented with different thatching materials and methods, with most of the thatch on the roof tied on with willow.

The grass thatch.

The grass thatch.

A floor has also been laid in the building made from crushed chalk.

The interior of the building showing the floor.

The interior of the building showing the floor.

Building 547

With the end of this phase of the project in sight, and the buildings almost finished, we thought it would be a good idea to dedicate the next few days blogs to each building.

Building 547

The north-west corner of the building.

The north-west corner of the building.

This building has been used to test a lot of our construction theories. A different method was employed in each quarter of the building. Two sections of wall were woven with a diagonal weave and two were woven horizontally.

The doorway in the south wall. Two different weaving styles can be seen.

The doorway in the south wall. Two different weaving styles can be seen.

The roof was also divided into sections which allowed us to experiment with rafter placement, ways of attaching the ringbeams and different thatching materials.

the different thatching methods that we tried.

the different thatching methods that we tried.

We also used this building to test our daub material before we used it on building 851.

The chalk daub test section.

The chalk daub test section.

The final week is here

We have reached the final week of construction!

With the buildings almost finished, this week sees the finishing touches being added. On building 851 we have finished daubing the last section of wall with the crushed chalk, this will hopefully dry out now that the sunny weather has arrived.

The completed north wall of building 851.

The completed north wall of building 851.

Around the eastern side of building 851 we are adding a woven hazel fence line, this features in the survey carried out when these buildings were excavated. This is a small section of fence approximately two metres away from the building.

The fence line on the eastern side of building 851.

The fence line on the eastern side of building 851.

On building 848 the floor has now been laid, this means that we no longer have to crush any chalk! Also we have started the last sections of roof that need covering. When these are finished we will be able to evaluate the different thatching methods used to see which are most suitable.

The last sections of roof on building 848 have been started.

The last sections of roof on building 848 have been started.

One floor is finished

After a day of grading, crushing and mixing chalk we have now finished laying the floor in building 851. We were quite amazed at the quantity of chalk that was needed in the floor.

Keith and Gareth mark out the hearth.

Keith and Gareth mark out the hearth. Photo by Briony Clifton

The finished floor complete with hearth.

The finished floor complete with hearth. Photo by Briony Clifton.

We also completed another section of thatch on the roof of building 848 today, this section also uses wheat straw but the method used is similar to that used yesterday on building 547.

Bob finishes another thatched section of building 848.

Bob finishes another thatched section of building 848.