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Anglo-Saxon Open Day 20 October

posted on September 10, 2019

On Sunday 20th October, Sylva Foundation will be celebrating the completion of the reconstruction of the Anglo-Saxon ‘House of Wessex’ at the Sylva Wood Centre by holding a public open day.

Wulfheodenas at the House of Wessex, July 2019

Wulfheodenas at the House of Wessex, July 2019

Come along to marvel at the amazing hand-crafted building whose timber frame used 80 trees donated by Blenheim estates before being shaped by dozens of volunteers earlier in the summer. During August, families came to help complete the wattle and daub walls, before work could start on the thatched roof.

Living History Society the Wulfheodenas will be moving into the house, and able to talk with visitors about their plans to turn the empty house into a living breathing reconstruction of Anglo-Saxon society. Also on display will be metal work, weaving, and perhaps a little cooking on the open fire.

Open 10am-3pm, Sunday 20th October.
Free entry.

Read more about the project: www.sylva.org.uk/wessex

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund

 

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A Thatching Day

posted on September 4, 2019

Master thatcher Alan Jones Pembrokeshire Thatch and Carpentry Services is making good progress completing the roof of the House of Wessex, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

We’ve made a short time-lapse film which shows Alan working on the complex rise in the thatch over the main door way. The film is made up of hundreds of images taken at one-minute intervals over the space of one day.


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Raising the House of Wessex

posted on July 9, 2019

Last weekend we held an Anglo-Saxon Spectacular at the Sylva Wood Centre with the raising of the timber frame for the House of Wessex.

Following many months of planning and hard work preparing the timber frame with dozens of volunteers, work got underway on Wednesday last week in raising the frame. Just five days later, the frame was up. About 60 volunteers from the Carpenter’s Fellowship worked on the beautiful frame of oak, sweet chestnut, ash, and birch.

On Saturday evening we invited many of the volunteers involved in the project to join us in celebrating the raising of the frame, including archaeologists, local historians, local people, and the craftspeople for the next phases of wattling, daubing, and thatching. At the end of the fifth day, as tradition dictates, we added a sprig of oak to the ridge in a topping out ceremony.

We hope you enjoy this short timelapse film, which captures the digging of the trench foundations with an archaeological watching brief, the raising of the frame, and the filling back in of the trenches at the end.

Over the coming weeks we will be installing the hazel hurdles and begin the thatching. If you are interested in the project, make sure you visit the House of Wessex webpage to find out more.

Our thanks to all the amazing volunteers for their hard work, and to the Heritage Lottery Fund for funding the project.

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund


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Anglo-Saxon Spectacular 6-7 July

posted on June 11, 2019

Public Open Weekend

Saturday 6th & Sunday 7th July

10am – 4pm

As part of our House of Wessex project, we’re excited to announce that our next public open weekend will take place during the first weekend of July. Watch the House of Wessex being constructed, plus have a go at Anglo-Saxon thatching, play traditional games, and see other traditional crafts on display. Free parking, and free entry.

July House of Wessex open weekend posterOver the last six months, the timber frame for our reconstruction of an important Anglo-Saxon house has been created by dozens of volunteers. Over 80 logs of oak, sweet chestnut, ash, and birch have been split, shaped, and carved by hand using nothing more than wedges and axes. We are now ready to raise the frame.

During the open weekend you will be able to watch the final shaping of the timbers with axes and the raising of the House of Wessex.  A variety of traditional techniques will be used to carry the timbers to the site and raise the timber frame, including a gin pole and derrick.

Come and meet members of the Wulfheodenas, a living history society, to see and join in with Anglo-Saxon crafts, play traditional games, learn about bone carving, cookery skills and much more.

You can even learn thatching skills from our master thatcher and he will show you how to make bread using the wheat being used to thatch the roof

It will be a great family weekend and a major milestone in the project.

Free parking. Free entry. No booking required. Sylva Wood Centre, Long Wittenham. OX14 4QT.


If you would like to get more involved, we still have some places available for the public to receive training in timber-framing and traditional thatching. We are offering a series of one-day courses in July and August. Course-fees from attendees will be used to match-fund the funding received from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Find out more about the courses

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund

 


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Timber-framing and Raising courses July 2019

posted on February 4, 2019

We are running a series of one-day timber-framing and raising courses at the Sylva Wood Centre, run by the Carpenters’ Fellowship. Come and learn jointing, framing-up, hand-rearing roof trusses, and fitting purlins and ridge pieces using traditional tools and techniques.

House of Wessex timber frame

House of Wessex timber frame

During this unique timber-framing and raising course you will develop skills and knowledge in the making and raising of a timber-frame using traditional tools and techniques.

You will be working alongside highly-skilled craftspeople, helping to make and raise the timber frame of the House of Wessex during the course. Each one-day course is one of five courses being run between 3rd and 7th July. You may book on more than one day by simply registering separately for each day. Please note that the work will be physically demanding, so please take this into account before booking multiple days!

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 :

  • Completing treewrighting on parts of the timber frame
  • Fitting of wall plates onto posts which will be set into the ground
  • Jointing and framing-up the roof trusses
  • Hand-rearing the roof trusses
  • Fitting pulins and ridge pieces
Treewrighting and timber framing

Treewrighting and timber framing

At the conclusion of the five days, the frame will be complete and ready for fixing of wattle hurdles on the roof, and other stages of construction including thatching (also offered as a course).

Full training will be provided (no prior experience necessary). The course will be outdoors in all weathers, so you will need to wear appropriate clothing (sun and rain).

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.

In addition, a programme of evening events (i.e. beyond the end of the formal course) will take place across the five days (3-7 July). The exact nature of these on any particular day will vary, but may include a range of talks on relevant craft and history, and social events.

 

Date

 

Book here

 

Wednesday, 3rd July 2019 book-now
Thursday, 4th July 2019 book-now
Friday, 5th July 2019 book-now
Saturday, 6th July 2019 book-now
Sunday, 7th July 2019 book-now

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Traditional thatching courses

posted on January 28, 2019

Learn about traditional and sustainable early thatching methods, including those to be used on the live reconstruction of the Anglo-Saxon, House of Wessex. 

10th-14th August 2019 (five one-day courses)

Led by Alan Jones, Conservation Carpenter and Master Thatcher, a leading thatcher in experimental archaeology and historical reconstructions since the early eighties. Each of the five one-day courses is centred on the thatching on the newly reconstructed timber House of Wessex at Sylva Foundation, south of Oxford.

 

Thatching with Alan Jones

Thatching with Alan Jones

You will learn how to use the materials and techniques to be used on the roof including laying turf over wattle hurdles, processing straw into yelms and bundles spar coating the thatch, dressing with a Leggett and gaining the required depth of fixings and overall depth of coat work.

The course will also include slide show and talk about evolution of our relationship with cereals as a food and shelter crop.  There will be the opportunity to mill grain into flour and taste bread made from the wheat straw from the roof.

Course content

  • Lecture of history and development of thatching in the UK.
  • Handling and processing the straw.
  • Applying turf to the hurdles.
  • Learning techniques for applying thatch to the roof at required thickness.
  • Spar coating the straw securely into position.
  • Dressing of the thatch to gain the desired shape.

Details

  • Small groups to allow for an intimate learning experience
  • Delegates can complete one or more days at £75 per day (discount for all five days, see below)
  • Delegates that complete 5 days may be invited to volunteer and complete the thatch on the House of Wessex reconstruction

Essential Requirements

Delegates are required to:

  • Have a good level of fitness
  • Be able to work at heights
  • Provide their own clothing suitable for work outdoors in all weathers
  • Provide their own safety boots
  • Provide your own food and drink

We are offering five one-day courses, run back-to-back.

Cost £75 per day. Click to book:

Saturday, 10th August

Sunday, 11th August

Monday, 12th August

Tuesday, 13th August

Wednesday, 14th August

We are pleased to offer a special discount if you want to attend all five days.

Five days for the price of four, at only £300. Offer only available by phoning us.

Please contact us on 01865 408018 to book for all 5 days, and have your payment card ready.

Location
Sylva Wood Centre
Little Wittenham Rd
Long Wittenham, OXF OX14 4QT
United Kingdom
Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund


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Courses: Treewrighting and timber-framing March 2019

posted on November 2, 2018

One-day courses, 20th-24th March 2019

We are pleased to offer five one-day courses in treewrighting and timber-framing, from 20th to 24th March.

House of Wessex timber frame

House of Wessex timber frame

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

You may book for more than one day. Please note that the activities will be physically demanding, so please take this into account before you sign up to all five days!

Carpenters Fellowship

 

Date

 

Book here

 

Wednesday, 20th March 2019 book-now
Thursday, 21st March 2019 book-now
Friday, 22nd March 2019 book-now
Saturday, 23rd March 2019 book-now
Sunday, 24th March 2019 book-now

 

 


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Course: Saxon Building Woodwork, or ‘Treewrighting’

posted on October 10, 2018

Saxon Building Woodwork, or ‘Treewrighting’

9am-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.

book-now

Book your place


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Become a Patron of the House of Wessex

posted on October 9, 2018

The House of Wessex is a unique reconstruction of an Anglo-Saxon house of significant importance in English history. The faithful reconstruction of the building, working with dozens of volunteers, and an associated programme of learning, is part-funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Sylva Foundation needs help to raise funds to realise the project’s full potential, and establish a legacy fund.

House of Wessex banner

House of Wessex banner

BRONZE  *  £250

Your donation will help us create and manage a unique historical reconstructed building — thank you.

  • We will write to you personally to thank you, recognising your significant contribution.
  • A personalised certificate recognising your contribution.
  • Your name will be appear in an online Patrons Board.

SILVER  * £500

Your support will mean we can build a better future for the House of Wessex, and our education programme.

Everything in BRONZE, plus . . .

  • Your name will be displayed in the building on a Patrons Board.
  • An invitation to a unique evening of Anglo-Saxon activities.

GOLD  *  £1,000

In recognition of your significant support, we offer some very special perks.

Everything in BRONZE and SILVER, plus . . .

  • Your name hand-carved in a beam or post. You can even learn to carve some of your own letters with a master craftsperson.
  • Invitation to a VIP opening of the building in autumn 2019.
  • Limited edition print of the building and reconstructed scene by a leading archaeological reconstruction artist.

 

Every pound we raise will go directly to the House of Wessex project. Thank you.

 

Find out more and pledge your support via Charity Checkout

Find out more and pledge your support via Charity Checkout

If you would prefer to talk with someone in the Sylva team, please call 01865 408018.

 


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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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