Beeston Bronze Age Structure: Construction Week 9

10th – 14th June 2019

Phase 3 Construction Week 9

Well, our amazing track record with weather so far on this project has well and truly changed!  This week we are forecast torrential rain for three days, and we have certainly had our share of it at Beeston.  The aim of this week was to consolidate the thatching methodology with the volunteers and to form those teams that will end up thatching the majority of the roof.

Wet, wet, wet

On Monday, we took advantage of the dry morning (under the threat of looming dark clouds) to get done what we could.  The rain then set in as we finished for the day. Tuesday saw torrential rain and our valiant volunteers turning up to see what they could do.  We agreed to work until we were soaked and set about thatching and alleviating a serious flood on site. The quarry collects water in conditions like this, so the volunteers dug a drain from the flood to the dead hedge perimeter and we drained the site successfully.

More pine logs are being split to produce timber for furniture making.  From next visit onward, while the thatching continues, other volunteers will begin to make furniture and fittings for the house using the split and hewn timbers produced over the last few visits.

Wednesday’s threatened downpour didn’t materialise, and the volunteers took advantage of the drier weather to complete some good thatching.  In the first 5 days of thatching, our teams have managed to thatch around 85 horizontal metres of thatch – despite poor weather, difficult access issues at the eave of the building, and the inevitably steep learning curve of mastering something entirely new!  This bodes well for the rest of the summer!

Opinions are changing regarding the “Stepped vs Smooth” thatching debate.  Culturally, there are numerous ways of thatching a roof – and the volunteers seem to have been almost equally split between the two camps.  As the thatch grows, opinions are changing both ways – it remains to be seen what the final decision will be.

Despite the weather this week, the volunteers have pressed on with the tasks at hand, and the thatch grows day by day – gradually blocking out light from the interior.  And for the first time, and despite the wet weather, parts of the structural frame remain dry! The roof is beginning to take effect.

The immense pile of thatch bales is already diminishing; a testament to the growing thatch roof.


So far, Our health and safety record has been very good, but the mud this week led to an unfortunate incident with Dave.  His continuous work in heavy mud finally got the better of him and he was lost without trace.  We shall miss him and his efforts!

Next time, while the thatch continues, we begin the skilful task of making furniture for the building interior.  It will be interesting to see how the volunteers approach this task and what ideas they have!