A busy day with the jigsaw

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

Shannon and Lachlan at work

One of the many photographs we took today

One of the many photographs we took today

Tidying the work area

Tidying the work area

What remains

Collecting up the thatch

From a house to a jigsaw

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

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

Trying to pull the thatch off on one go

The JCB then very delicately pulled off the thatch

Pulling 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

DSC_0058Luckily 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!






The deconstruction starts

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

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

Press interest in the sunken house

Finally we could all join in and carefully start to take the house apart


Drawings, photographs and lots of labels

By Rosie Bound

Another interesting and successful day for those involved with the West Stow sunken house autopsy; the project is coming along nicely! Some of the group took on the task of taking detailed and accurate drawn records of the sunken house with guidance and teaching from Rob, a Suffolk archaeologist, while others continued taking photographs of the house inside and out to add to our  records. 3 people also were tasked with creating a labelling system for the beams and rafters inside the house so we can record them once it has been dismantled on Wednesday. There’s still plenty to do for the rest of the week with more people coming along in the next few days – by the end of the week the house should be gone and the pit ready for excavation!

Photographs and paperwork, LOTS of paperwork

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

Oct 10th_002

Between them they took some general pictures of each wall of the house, inside and out.

DSC_0004They 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.


West Stow- Autopsy of the sunken house


Anglo Saxon House

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.

The project

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


Setting up

Today Rob from Suffolk Archaeology CIC who will be working with us on this project came to site to measure out a grid. This will help us to set up baselines for planning the house.
Rob from Suffolk Archaeology CIC setting out a grid

Rob from Suffolk Archaeology CIC setting out a grid