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Rotting West Stow house reveals Anglo-Saxon builders’ secrets




Team leader Pippa Smith, centre, with two of the HLF Young Roots participants, Ethan Dracocardos, 11, and Rosie Bound, 16. ANL-151013-112158001
Team leader Pippa Smith, centre, with two of the HLF Young Roots participants, Ethan Dracocardos, 11, and Rosie Bound, 16. ANL-151013-112158001

A collapsing house built only 40 years ago may help archeologists learn more about 5th to 7th century construction techniques.

The Sunken House at West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village was built by a team of experimental archaeologists and has now has reached the end of its natural life.

But the Heritage Lottery Fund Young Roots project now means a team of young people, aged 11 to 25, working with professional archaeologists, can dismantle the house and excavate the pit that remains.

Archaeology and heritage education specialist Pippa Smith said: “Each stage of the deconstruction will be systematically recorded using photographs and measured drawings, which we then hope will give further insight into the ways these buildings decayed over their lifetime.

“By recording how the building has decayed, this will give us more understanding how long Anglo-Saxon buildings would have lasted with different building techniques; something which the original archaeological team set out to explore with this particular house for instance, some 40 years ago.”

Anglo-Saxon buildings were wooden and thatched so the only evidence of their existence is foundation hollows and post holes which experts will be studying closely after the West Stow house is removed. Its remains will be compared with original Anglo-Saxon excavations on site.

Lance Alexander, St Edmundsbury Borough Council Heritage Operations Manager, said: “Its very deconstruction will help provide further insight into how the Anglo-Saxons lived.”

Pippa Smith is blogging the deconstruction at http://handlingthepast.co.uk/about-me/west-stow-blog



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