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Thursday 5th October 2017
 
Excavations at Holme Cultram Abbey

Jennifer Stearn

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08 September, 2017


 February 2012

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Beyond the call of duty for team three?    © Phil Carroll

In spite of the adverse weather, good progress has been made this month. February saw recording team two preparing to start work again within the Scale Park area, whilst team three finished the barns on Hoobank , surveyed two of the last four outstanding in the valley bottom and made a start in Starbotton village. In the meantime, having finished their initial allocation within Kettlewell, team five surveyed the third barn remaining to be recorded in the valley and photographed the interiors of two barns, to which, initially we did not have access. They have also been busy compiling reports and handed over eight at the end of the month.

Roof Timbers
The type of truss used to support the roof of the barns changed over time and can suggest a date for the initial construction, or later extension and alteration to the building. However from the 19th century onwards many of the barns in the parish have had their roof timbers replaced. This replacement is still going on today and means that the style of truss is not always as helpful as we would wish, when trying to date a building.
As a reference for our survey teams, Alison Armstrong prepared a set of drawings, with probable dates of the different types of roof timbers that we may find locally. There are still a number of older roofs remaining and we have managed to find almost all the features that Alison illustrated, the following photographs show examples of the types of roof timbers that we have recorded to date.

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The single padstone remaining inside this barn suggests
 a former cruck truss    © Phil Carroll

The earliest type of truss was a cruck formed by the two halves of a single timber split down the middle. The crucks were joined by a collar and they rested on large padstones to protect their bases from rot. Timbers from a cruck truss can be identified by their sloping cross halving joints. In addition to the padstone, the barn above also had evidence in the gables for the steeply pitched thatched roof, used on a cruck building. This is as close as we have come to finding a cruck.

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This section of much re-used timber has the type of joint which may have come from a cruck truss    © Phil Carroll

The purlins running between the trusses and supporting the rafters can be either trenched; i.e. resting in a channel cut into the top of the principle rafter, or threaded, where a tenon passes through the rafter; this is often finished with a peg and known as a tusked tenon, and dates from around 1800. In later roofs the purlins often butt up to the rafter and are fastened with a bolt. Trusses are often strengthened by the use of collars, braces or raking struts.

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17th century style of king post minus one of its raking struts.    © Alison Armstrong

We have found one example of an early king post of the type dating to the 17th or early 18th century. This truss, with trenched purlins, is made from local timber - which was far from straight, so the carpenter had used red setting out lines, which can still be seen. The other two trusses in this barn are also local timber, with their red guide-lines still showing but these are of the pegged morticed apex type. All of the trusses have raking struts however the king post has lost one although the socket is still visible.

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Pegged morticed apex truss in local timber.    © Phil Carroll

Morticed apex trusses date to the 18th and early 19th century and are usually pegged. These may be plain trusses but they could also have raking struts or a collar. Later trusses of this type are butt jointed at the apex. The truss in the photograph is one of four, all of which are of local timber with red setting out lines, trenched purlins and raking struts, they are in a barn which exhibits many other 18th century features.

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A queen strut truss and threaded tusked tenons     © Phil Carroll

Chronologically the next type of truss to be encountered is the queen strut. These are usually made from sawn soft wood and date from 1770 onwards. The truss in the photograph was found in a barn which had a further two queen strut trusses one of which had an oak tie beam. This barn is one with indications that it started life with cruck trusses but has been much modified over the last four hundred years and demonstrates that the roof does not necessarily date the building

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 Note the tusked tenon and the butted apex joint     © Phil Carroll

A very commonly found truss is the 19th century version of the king post; where the principle rafters meet the top of the king post and there are braces from the post to the rafters. These are always made from sawn timber and often have carpenters marks. The tie beam and king post are connected with a suspension bolt.

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 19th century type of king post, note also the bolted purlins.     © Phil Carroll

Pat Carroll

Read the March 2012 Report

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