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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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Anglo-Saxon open weekend 13-14 October

posted on
Anglo-Saxon weekend poster-image

Anglo-Saxon weekend poster-image

13 & 14th October, 10am-4pm  *FREE ENTRY*

We have a very exciting programme of activities lined up for our first Anglo-Saxon open weekend, as part of our House of Wessex project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Over the two days we will offer opportunities for all the family to come along and experience a wide range of Anglo-Saxon activities.

  • Watch and learn about Anglo-Saxon treewrighting (not ‘carpentry’!) including cleaving and hewing timbers, and timber framing techniques.
  • Have a go at hurdle making and the opportunity to try your hand at mixing wattle and daub!
  • A thatcher will be holding demonstrations on the thatching techniques to be used for our building.
  • Children can join in milling, from start to finish, to help make bread using a rotary quern-stone.
  • International award-winning living history society, the Wulfheodenas, will be demonstrating a wide range of Anglo-Saxon arts and crafts.  There will be textile production, from fleece to fabric, bone carving, antler working, leather working, jewellery and material making and lots more.
  • Children can listen to an Anglo-Saxon storyteller and learn and play games from this fascinating period in history.   Each tent will have a mini display and people can see and ask questions about each activity.

We look forward to welcoming you and your family. See the event on Facebook.

Location: Sylva Wood Centre, Long Wittenham, OX14 4QT (map)

Read more about the House of Wessex project

 


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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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House of Wessex project goes live

posted on June 4, 2018

In 2016, the remains of an important Anglo-Saxon building were discovered on our land at the Sylva Wood Centre in south Oxfordshire. We are excited to announce that thanks to the support of a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund we will be reconstructing the house, with help from volunteers, and launching a series of exciting education activities. Known as the House of Wessex, the education project will run from June 2018 until November 2019 with the ultimate aim of celebrating the birth of the Kingdom of England.

House of Wessex

Archaeological excavations at Sylva Wood Centre September 2016

Archaeological excavations of the ‘House of Wessex’ being undertaken by volunteers led by Oxford University’s Continuing Education Department, in partnership with the School of Archaeology, at the Sylva Wood Centre in September 2016

Main Activities

  • Working with teams of volunteers we will accurately reconstruct the Anglo-Saxon building, on its original footprint, using treewrighting techniques, tools and materials faithful to the 7th Century.
  • With local history groups and other partners we will create a heritage trail, linking our site to nearby historic features and sites.
  • We will be working closely with local schools.
  • With a living history society, we will hold public open days at the site.
House of Wessex model

House of Wessex reconstruction drawings, by Carpenter’s Fellowship.

Get involved

We are beginning to look for people to work with us in this exciting project. We will run courses during which you can learn a whole range of news skills, or you can get involved in other ways as a volunteer.

Find out more on our new webpage for the project www.sylva.org.uk/wessex which includes a link to a dedicated newsletter you can join to receive early notice of opportunities to get involved in the reconstruction.

Our newly-appointed House of Wessex project manager is Lesley Best. You can contact Lesley at wessex@sylva.org.uk

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund

 


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