21st May 2005 - Grampus Ashgill site nr Threapland

We were invited by Martin Clark of Grampus to spend the day at their Ashgill site and take part in some of their experimental archaeology which is geared to reproducing various building and natural resource using techniques. We were to share the day with an international group of archaeological enthusiasts who were spending a week in Cumbria

 

This was a most fascinating and instructive day and we thank Martin Andy and the Slovenian pair for having us there.

Hurdle making .

 Using thin willow saplings, thicker stakes and a former (which consisted of a row of holes in a thick plank), we wove light but rigid hurdles which could be put to many uses. Suggestions were hedging, stock control, roofing and stabilising wet ground.  I can't think how we live without them. 

There were also other examples of woven willow, in other shapes, used for edging and terracing, also forming a shelter for vegetable beds.

Shingle making

This was the highlight of the day.  We were shown the Slovenian way of making shingles by the only practicing hand maker now alive.

He started with an eighteen inch spruce log, which he pronounced rather too dry, and by a process of debarking, splitting, and then working with a meticulously sharpened draw knife he ended with a shingle 18x6 inches with a curved profile which gave an air circulation channel to the finished roof.  His skill was most impressive as any of those who had a try will confirm.  He patience with us was immense as working through his interpreter he explained what he was doing and answered the many questions. (this  needs a demonstration of the shapes to be comprehendible)

Daubing

A big wheelbarrow load of daub was mixed to a Danish recipe and everyone who wanted to had a go at patching the cracks in the walls of the little water mill which is an example of more old techniques than I can write about.

 

Thatching

The roof of a small open barn was thatched using partially dry pulled bracken, the roots of which are black and waterproof.

 

Everyone was very impressed by this place and we hope to be able to see more of their work

 

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