The sound of axes shaping timber has been ringing out across the Museum’s site over the last few weeks, as craftsmen started to construct the timber frame of a new exhibit building, an Anglo-Saxon hall house.
The construction team comprising skilled volunteers under the supervision of Museum Carpenter in residence, Joe Thompson, have been helping to get this exciting new project off the ground.
As no saws were used at this time, the team have had to get to grips with different techniques – particularly those around splitting and shaping wood. Museum Curator, Julian Bell, has been preparing timbers for the construction team’s use since late 2014.
Progress on the building has been taking place over the last few weeks and the timber frame is now assembled. Over the coming weeks, the walls will be wattle and daubed and the roof thatched, using wheat straw grown at the Museum.
Archaeological reconstructions are not new to the Museum; one of the first buildings erected at the Museum was an Anglo-Saxon building (based on archaeological evidence, a weaver’s hut) and also the outline of a hall house from the same era.
Many years on and neither building remains – currently the Museum’s medieval cottage from Hangleton exhibit is the only other structure based on archaeology. As such, we look forward to the completion of the Anglo-Saxon exhibit building and to sharing the story of the inhabitants of its region over a longer period of time.
The Saxon house project has been researched by a team from the Museum with input from external experts, and is based on archaeological evidence from a site in Steyning, West Sussex from 950AD, which was excavated by a team led by Dr Mark Gardiner in 1988-89.
Above ground details have been informed by various sources, such as waterlogged sites in the Thames Basin, and individuals including Richard Darrah and Dr Damian Goodburn, both of whom have many years of experience both in examining pre-Norman timberworks and in carrying out experimental practical archaeology.
This is the first stage of the construction and more stages will follow. Up-to-date information will be published under the latest news and blog areas of this website.
You may be interested to read this earlier article, which details the earliest stages of the project, plus a time lapse video.
The Anglo-Saxon exhibit building is sign posted from the Museum shop and ticket office, and we encourage our visitors to explore the exhibit during its fascinating construction phase.