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Course: Saxon Building Woodwork, or ‘Treewrighting’

posted on October 10, 2018

Saxon Building Woodwork, or ‘Treewrighting’

10am-4pm, Saturday 23rd March 2019

Led by Damian Goodburn BA PhD, a leading archaeological woodwork specialist, this workshop will be held in our new purpose-built Education Barn at the Sylva Wood Centre.

Saxon broad axe work

Saxon broad axe work. Damian Goodburn demonstrating.

Learn about Anglo-Saxon building woodwork, based mainly on the study of surviving wooden remains, including a review of relatively new evidence, with live demonstrations of tools and techniques, and opportunities to watch treewrighting in action.

Morning activities will include illustrated talks covering the themes below, starting with evidence for how woodland resources were managed. Samples of books and publications will be discussed, including many rare items.

  1. The variation in woodland materials from ‘wildwood’ to intensive coppiced woodland.
  2. An overview of the range of waterlogged building woodwork remains found in Saxon and Saxo-Norman period England c.500-1180 AD when ‘carpentry’ and formal ‘timber-framing’ arrived from France.
  3. Evidence for basic techniques carried out without saws, including felling, bucking, radial, tangential cleaving, hewing various shaped timbers, styles of wattlework.
  4. Evidence for the range of joints and fastenings used, taps and locks, tusk tenons, laft joints, tongue and groove, scarfs, treenails and rove nails.
  5. Tool marks and tool kits, narrow axes, broad axes, ‘groping irons’.
  6. Evidence for ‘built-in’ furniture and fittings such as beds, benches, hearths, storage bins, and coops, doors and windows.
  7. Relevant ethnographic evidence from later timber buildings in the ‘Homelands’ areas on the east side of the North Sea, less influenced by French-style timber-framed carpentry, and how that can be used to extend archaeological evidence from England.

Afternoon activity will involve handling real samples of Saxon woodwork, and high-quality replica tools and fastenings.

Throughout the day demonstrations will be used to illustrate some basic techniques essential to treewrighting, including cleaving a small straight green log (oak or ash c. 150-200mm diam by 1.8-2m long) using wooden wedges, hewing with a narrow-bladed and broad-bladed ‘T’ axe, simple Saxon joint cutting, and willow treenail (wythenails) making.

While the course is underway, delegates will be able to to witness a range of related treewrighting activities nearby, thanks to members of the Carpenters’ Fellowship working on the frame of the House of Wessex.

Cost £75.00. Lunch provided. 20 places maximum. Safety boots essential.

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Treewrighting and timber-framing course

posted on October 9, 2018

Five-day course, 20th-24th March 2019

During this unique five-day treewrighting course you will learn and develop skills in the making of a timber-frame using traditional tools and techniques.

House of Wessex timber frame

House of Wessex timber frame

Teaching will be provided by highly experienced craftspeople in the Carpenters’ Fellowship. Learning will include a selection of the following, catering for a wide range of skill and experience :

  • Axe jointing “treewrighting”
  • Cleaving and dressing logs
  • Converting timbers
  • Shaping timbers
  • Carving wooden tree nails
  • Hewing logs by axe

Full training will be provided (no prior experience necessary). Although you will be working undercover, the course will be ‘outdoors’, so you will need to wear appropriate clothing.

Drinks and hot food will be provided, including breakfast, lunch and dinner. Overnight camping (bring your own tent) may be available on the site, or locally. More details will follow your booking.

A programme of evening events will also be on offer, including a range of talks on relevant craft and history, and social events.

Carpenters Fellowship

 

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Read more and Book your place for 20-24 March 2019


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Timber secured from Blenheim Estates

posted on October 8, 2018

We had a fantastic day recently on Bladon Heath, in the woodlands on Blenheim Estate, carefully selecting the timber for the training courses this weekend, plus marking out timber for the next year’s reconstruction of the House of Wessex. 

We have chosen a variety of species, 40 trees in total, a mix of ash , sweet chestnut, oak and silver birch. The oak and sweet chestnut are of similar age, around 100yrs and 70 ft in height. The ash are younger at 40 -50 yrs, and again 70ft. The birch are younger at 25yrs and are 50ft.

The trees required for the event on 13-14 October (read more) have been felled and delivered to the Wood Centre. The timber will be used for the formal training course and for the general public to see Anglo-Saxon techniques in action such as hewing, cleaving and making treenails. The work will help prototype some of the techniques to be used in next year’s reconstruction of the House of Wessex.

Many thanks to John, Henry, and Joe from Carpenters’ Fellowship for their time selecting the trees, and Nick Baimbridge and his forestry team of Blenheim Estates for felling and preparing the timber.

Read more about the House of Wessex


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Birth of the House of Wessex project

posted on September 12, 2018

Professor Helena Hamerow, from the School of Archaeology at the University of Oxford, has provided much of the academic expertise for the House of Wessex project. We asked Helena to summarise how the House of Wessex project came about.

Archaeological excavations at Sylva Wood Centre September 2016

Archaeological excavations at Sylva Wood Centre September 2016

Sylva quotes

Helena Hamerow said

The idea for the ‘House of Wessex’ project came about as the result of an archaeological excavation by the University of Oxford’s School of Archaeology and Department of Continuing Education on land owned by the Sylva Foundation. The aim of the dig was to establish whether a rectangular cropmark identified in aerial photographs was the footprint of a rare type of building: an Anglo-Saxon hall.  The excavations — directed by DPhil student Adam McBride and Dr Jane Harrison in 2016 – were part of a wider investigation led by Professor Helena Hamerow called ‘The Origins of Wessex’. The project aims to gain a better understanding of the emergence in the Upper Thames valley of a leading dynasty referred to by Bede as the Gewisse, who later became known as the West Saxons.  Long Wittenham seems to have been a key centre of the Gewisse, as indicated by two richly furnished cemeteries excavated here in the 19th century, and a group of cropmarks indicating the presence of a ‘great hall complex’, of which the excavated building appears to be an outlier.

The dig uncovered the foundations of a large timber hall, radiocarbon dated to the seventh century. This period is sometimes known as the ‘Age of Sutton Hoo’ and is the time when the first Anglo-Saxon kingdoms emerged. The dig led to conversations about the importance in the Anglo-Saxon world of timber (an Anglo-Saxon word that referred not only to the building material, but also to building itself). This in turn led the Sylva Foundation to pursue the exciting possibility of reconstructing the building in its original setting.  The project offers researchers as well as the local community an exceptional opportunity to learn more about the resources needed and methods used — as well as the challenges faced — by those who constructed these extraordinary buildings.

Read more about Professor Hamerow on the School of Archaeology pages


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Model of the House of Wessex

posted on August 13, 2018

A realistic model of the House of Wessex has been made by volunteer Brian Hempsted.

Brian Hempsted has been volunteering with Sylva Foundation for the last year, offering his considerable woodcarving skills in helping resident sculptor Simon Clements complete the Tree Charter poles. When he heard about the House of Wessex project, Brian admitted that he was also a keen model maker and offered to make an accurate model of the proposed building at 1:50 scale.

We’ve made a short film showing the model, which he’s just completed. We think it’s just fantastic!

The House of Wessex project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.


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Expressions of Interest sought for timber-framing of Anglo-Saxon reconstructed house

posted on June 18, 2018

Sylva Foundation seek expressions of interest from timber-framing and archaeological specialists for the design and faithful reconstruction of an Anglo-Saxon house using traditional treewrighting tools and techniques, on the same footprint as an original historical artefact in south Oxfordshire, and to deliver workshops and onsite training.

The charity has been awarded a Heritage Lottery Grant to reconstruct the Anglo-Saxon timber-framed building in a new project known as the House of Wessex. A summary of the project can be found at: www.sylva.org.uk/wessex

Expressions will be accepted only via the following EOI online form:

https://goo.gl/forms/PFYI6lKxUYg08MlT2

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION OF EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST IS FRIDAY 29TH JUNE 2018


Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund


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Expressions of Interest sought for thatching of Anglo-Saxon reconstructed house

posted on June 12, 2018

Sylva Foundation seeks expressions of interest from thatchers for the thatching of an Anglo-Saxon building to be reconstructed using traditional thatching methods and materials, and to deliver workshops and onsite training, in south Oxfordshire.

The charity has been awarded a Heritage Lottery Grant to reconstruct the Anglo-Saxon timber-framed building in a new project known as the House of Wessex. A summary of the project can be found at: www.sylva.org.uk/wessex

Expressions will be accepted only via the following EOI online form:

https://goo.gl/forms/qBRYYWY3kvNCLqf32

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION OF EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST IS FRIDAY 29TH JUNE 2018


Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund


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posted on May 4, 2018

We’re sure that many of our readers have been bombarded with opt-in messages from online accounts and newsletters, all in readiness for the impending General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). As you originally opted in to receive the Sylva enews we are not asking you to do so again, but we have always included an ‘opt-out’ link at the bottom of this enews. However, it has come to our attention that recently this has stopped working, and some people who asked to be unsubscribed have continued to receive communications from us. We sincerely apologise for this.
Next week we are launching a new look to our enews, and this will include a working opt-out link! Please bear with us while we make this transition.

Thank you


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Introduction to Woodcarving course

posted on February 16, 2018

Introduction to Woodcarving course

Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd June 2018

 

A two-day workshop for woodcarving newcomers and those with some experience who would like to develop their skills.

Vine carving in progress Simon Clements

Vine carving in progress, Simon Clements

The ‘Fruit of the Vine’ has long been a favourite motif for carvers both in stone and in wood. Using stencils students will learn how to mark out and carve a simplified design of vine leaves and grapes in lime wood.

Students will learn:

  • How to transfer a drawn design to a block of wood
  • How to mount their work for carving
  • How to clamp and hold the work piece securely
  • How to use the appropriate chisel or gouge for each stage of the carving
  • How to use a carver’s mallet
  • Students will learn to overcut the surface and background, and how to undercut the finished design.

Cost: £225 per person (all materials and tools provided). Please bring your own packed lunch.

Venue: Sylva Wood Centre, Oxfordshire, OX14 4QT

Tutor: Simon Clements, Wood carver

book-now

Book your place

 


About the tutor

Sculptor Simon Clements standing next to the Charter Pole at the Sylva Wood Centre

Simon Clements

Simon Clements is came to woodcarving after a career which included teaching art, sculpture and pottery, working as a mast spar and oar maker for an Oxfordshire company and restoring heritage carving.

He now works from his workshop at the Sylva Wood Centre, carving sculptural pieces for architects, interior designers, private clients, and for exhibitions. Sculptural work ranges from table-top sculpture to kinetic garden pieces. He is currently half-way through 11 very large commemorative carved poles for the Woodland Trust as part of the Tree Charter.

www.simonclements.info


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Spoon whittling course

posted on

27th and 28th July 2018

Come along to learn and improve your whittling skills with this two-day course introducing students to using curved (hook) knives and straight carving knives, and go home with your own hand-crafted wooden spoon.

spoon whittling with Simon Clements

spoon whittling with Simon Clements

Wooden spoon blanks will be provided; there will also be an opportunity for students to make a straight or curved knife to add to their toolkit, and to discuss the relative merits of penknife shapes for whittling.

Carving will be done in the lap and in the hand, and will concentrate on developing woodland carving skills without the need for green woodworking tools such as axes and froes.

Bring along your favourite penknife or whittling tool for advice on sharpening and usefulness.

This will be a two-day course on a Friday and Saturday. Please bring a pack lunch for both days, coffee, tea and snacks will be provided

Students will learn:

  • To attach handles to carving knives
  • Sharpen their tools
  • Design a wooden spoon from a plain wooden blank
  • Carve and shape a wooden spoon and spoon bowl using carving knives of various shapes
  • Hold work in the lap in a safe manner for carving
  • How to use a variety of cutting actions in a safe manner
  • Will be given advice about simple protective measures to prevent minor cuts and injuries.

If the weather is good perhaps we may carve outside in the Forest School shelter, or inside if the weather is less clement. Places available for a maximum of 10 students.

Cost: £225 per person (all materials and tools provided). Please bring your own packed lunch.

Venue: Sylva Wood Centre, Oxfordshire, OX14 4QT

Dates: Friday 27th and Saturday 28th July 2018

Tutor: Simon Clements, Wood carver

book-now

Book your place

 


About the tutor

Sculptor Simon Clements standing next to the Charter Pole at the Sylva Wood Centre

Simon Clements

Simon Clements is came to woodcarving after a career which included teaching art, sculpture and pottery, working as a mast spar and oar maker for an Oxfordshire company and restoring heritage carving.

He now works from his workshop at the Sylva Wood Centre, carving sculptural pieces for architects, interior designers, private clients, and for exhibitions. Sculptural work ranges from table-top sculpture to kinetic garden pieces. He is currently half-way through 11 very large commemorative carved poles for the Woodland Trust as part of the Tree Charter.

www.simonclements.info


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