Master thatcher to demonstrate skills at West Stow

The site of the new sunken house, at West Stow Anglo-Saxon village ANL-150902-103044001
The site of the new sunken house, at West Stow Anglo-Saxon village ANL-150902-103044001
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Vistors to West Stow will soon have the chance to see thatching techniques which may have been used 1,500 years ago - as the village’s first Anglo-Saxon house in nearly a decade nears completion.

Master thatcher Alan Jones will be giving a talk and demonstration on Saturday, February 21, as he works on a new sunken house at West Stow.

This latest building is one of five to be constructed at the site since its excavation nearly 50 years ago, replacing one of the originals put up in the 1970s.

Built on the footings of excavated buildings, the experimental reconstructions remain unique, using the tools, materials and techniques which would have been used 1,500 years ago. Each reconstructed building has been thatched in a different way.

Cllr Sarah Stamp, cabinet member for leisure, culture and heritage at St Edmundsbury Borough Council, which runs the site, said: “These demonstrations will help to explain why we are so very proud of our experimental reconstructions at West Stow.”

Cllr Sarah Broughton, chairman of West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village Trust said: “This most recent experiment of thatching with gorse and straw shows how the West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village Trust continues to be the guardian of authenticity and integrity for the site.”

Alan Jones has carried out thatching work at West Stow since 2008. He specialises in traditional and ancient thatching techniques.

His talk and demonstrations will show a variety of ways in which materials were used, and there will be opportunities to try out hands-on skills in the afternoon.

“People of the past had a great tradition to draw upon which had made them self-sufficient in so many ways. Today many may be surprised at their sophistication,” he said.