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Thursday 5th October 2017
 
Excavations at Holme Cultram Abbey

Jennifer Stearn

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Site last updated
08 September, 2017


August 2011 – both in and out of doors – the survey work restarts…

The month began with a range of visits from UWGF Committee members to various archival sources – the first by Pat and Phil to the Yorkshire Archaeological Society in Leeds to obtain copies of some of the Building Reports, produced by the Yorkshire Vernacular Building Study Group.

At the YAS, in addition to seven YVBSG reports, we were also able to copy sections of the First Edition OS map of the parish and enhance our early mapping coverage of the area.
The map information was most helpful, as it increased the number of possible Traditional Farm Building sites to 204 and clarified which of the TFB’s had existed in the landscape in the mid 19th century and provided phase layout outlines.
The following week, Pat and Alan spent a busy day at the West Yorkshire Archive Service in Leeds recording the 1847 Kettlewell Tithe Award map and details of the Apportionments.

Through this period, the UWHG Desktop Research team has continued to delve into the records to bridge the 400 years between the Survey of Middleham in 1605 and the present day – if this proves possible, then it will provide distinct pointers to the oldest recorded TFB locations.

In the middle of the month, Pat and Phil travelled to Malham, to the National Trust Estate Office, to copy the Building Surveys that the NT produced for their farm buildings within the Kettlewell with Starbotton Parish.

Out in the field, Team 3 continued the barn study at the northern end of the parish and, despite a profusion of extremely tall nettles, from the three buildings surveyed, a range of interesting features came to the fore.
Some were obvious, such as a differing constructional material employed inside the shippon, where large sheets of blue-grey slate had been used as an alternative to timber to divide off the cow stalls


Sheets of slate, nearly a metre high, neatly set into carefully curved and chamfered wooden frame supports  © Phil Carroll

This ‘modernisation’ of the shippons, by replacing the earlier wood divisions with slate, was planned for two barns south of Kettlewell village in 1809 and may be found elsewhere in the valley.
Elsewhere within the buildings, a careful scrutiny of the construction materials employed will often yield worthwhile results that are indicative of a build date.

We find a pair of binoculars a useful aid when looking at the overhead timbers, as it enables details difficult to distinguish to be clarified – one such recent item was a timber marking on a cross beam, which on first glance, just looked a collection of irregular lines on the bottom edge of the roof truss


A close-up of one section of the markings on this length of timber
© Phil Carroll

When studied in detail, it is apparent that the lines were burnt, or cut, into the length of sawn softwood and thought by Arnold Pacey to be Baltic timber consignment marks.
Adjacent to them, is the carpenter’s black vertical line showing the alignment drill hole for the interlocking iron bolt.

The photographic image also manages to record on the side face of the beam some more graffiti that was not apparent to the naked eye – suggestions are invited as to what this may say… we think ‘M Wigs…. ‘ may be recorded there.

However, elsewhere, more distinct markings are to be discovered – in Addendum C section two, we drew attention to the possibility of finding additional markings for timber alignments and for constructional joints.

As stone flag roofs gradually replaced the earlier thatch, the roof pitch was reduced and tie-beam roof trusses became usual but prior to the importation of softwood, at the end of the 18th century, local timber was used which was rarely straight.
If carpenters were to make roofs of uniform slope, with properly fitting joints from such timber, they needed to mark each length with a straight line from which to take measurements.
This was done by snapping a chord, impregnated with raddle, against the timber - these red lines can still be seen on the trusses constructed in this way, which help to date the roof, raddle was a dyestuff or special crayon, used locally to mark impregnated ewes.
 

The carpenter’s detailed marking on old local timber   © Phil Carroll

Here, the carpenter has marked the straight measurement lines along the upper side of the two principal rafters and indicated the cutting lines for the pegged tenon joint for the apex point of the truss and further down the rafter can be see the slot marking line for the trenched purlins.

As September starts a new batch of TFB visits, we wish our Recording Teams and any other UWHG members who would like to join the project*– happy and interesting surveying.
 
Phil & Pat Carroll

* Please contact our chairman for further details

Read the September 2011 report

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