By Lizzie Harvey
Today’s rainy clouds marked the last day of our half-term dismantling period. We were mainly finishing off work from yesterday, photographing and sketching the last of the numerous beams and filming little scenes around the village. However, in the afternoon, after it stopped raining (well mostly stopped), we set about the arduous task of recreating the house out of the often broken pieces of timber by placing them on the ground. It seemed simple enough. Our labelling system that we created on Monday and Tuesday should have been an easy guide to follow but we soon found that this wasn’t the case; some of the labels had fallen off their designated beam, some pieces hadn’t been labelled as they were hidden in the thatch and some pieces were missing, presumably after being taken away with the roof. Despite these difficulties, by the end of the day with a lot of hard work and guessing, we managed to complete the house in a reasonably accurate manner with only a few pieces left out- a feat I think we’re all quite proud of.
I think I speak for everyone involved in this project when I say that this week has taught us lots about archaeology and Anglo Saxon buildings. We’re incredibly grateful to all the adults who have put their time and effort into making this week interesting and enjoyable and feel that we have learnt a lot of practical skills that we can use later in our no doubt blossoming careers in archaeology. We thank Pippa and Rob in particular for their time spent working with us and for the many hours they will presumably work after this with the digitalisation of our work.
Tom checking the east wall
The west wall
The house laid out
A tired and wet but proud team
By Shannon Barrett and Lachlan roe
Today was really busy, but really fun in every way. We took photos and measured the different sizes of the broken parts and big planks. We also cleaned up our work space and the rest of the thatch then we picked up all the thatch and put it on a pile. There were only 7 of us so it was really hard to get everything done but we got there in the end. Thank you to Pippa smith for this week and all the fun that me Lachlan and everyone else has had also thank you to Rik Hoggett, Rob Brooks and Scott Collins for all the help this week.
Shannon and Lachlan at work
One of the many photographs we took today
Tidying the work area
Collecting up the thatch
After a wet and busy day today’s post is written by Pippa as we ran out of time for the young people to write anything today.
The day started with a bit of stand off between some local residents and the deconstruction crew
Local residents meet lance
They were well armed but friendly
The first plan was to attach a strap to a cross beam and pull the thatch off but it turns out that the house builders had done too good a job and it just wouldn’t budge.
Trying to pull the thatch off on one go
The JCB then very delicately pulled off the thatch
Pulling off the thatch
Some of the frame stood up to this for quite a while but pulling off the roof beam was too much and it collapsed
Luckily a small group of the team had planned for this eventuality and every piece of wood had a label attached to it so we know where each bit fitted. The job for today and the rest of the week is to draw, measure and photograph all of the pieces of what is now a giant, wet jigsaw!
Today we recorded the momentous moment when the Anglo Saxon house started to be deconstructed. We used film as it is an interesting way to document events. We learnt how to professionally record with video cameras and audio devices. We had loads of fun doing this!
Scott from Signal Arts Media came to work with us.
Scott working with some of the young people
We experimented with a GoPro, a video camera and the SLRs we have been using.
Last thing today two of the people who built the sunken house in 1974 came along to be the first people to start taking it apart.
Kimberley and Ian who built the house start to take it apart
There was quite a lot of interest from newspapers and loads of photographs were taken.
Press interest in the sunken house
Finally we could all join in and carefully start to take the house apart
On Saturday two young people came along to learn how to use digital SLR cameras and help make a detailed record of the house.
Rosie and Ethan soon discovered that each photograph has to be logged. Between the two of them they took 268 photographs and unless each one is logged it would be difficult to know which bit of the house was in each photograph
Between them they took some general pictures of each wall of the house, inside and out.
They also zoomed in to take some detailed shots.
As well as the carefully taken record shots they both spent some time taking some more creative shots from unusual angles.
It’s important that we carefully record the house before it is deconstructed and the next stage will be to do some measured drawings.
The sunken house at West Stow
A reconstructed Anglo-Saxon sunken house built with techniques believed to be correct 40 years ago when the Anglo-Saxon Village was first created on the site of a major archaeological excavation reached the end of its life in 2015 and needed to be dismantled for the sake of health and safety. All current archaeological knowledge suggests that when Anglo-Saxon buildings reached this level of natural decay, they were dismantled and such materials that could be recycled were applied to other buildings.
West Stow was given funding from the Heritage Lottery Young Roots fund to work with young people (aged 11-25) and professional archaeologists to systematically dismantle the house and excavate the pit that remains.
Between October 2015 and April 2016 a group of 17 young people worked together on this project and this blog recorded what they did at each stage.
You can watch a video they created as part of the project here