Butser Iron Age Village was an experiment several decades ago, the beginnings of experimental archaeology. Trying to build, grow and live as ancient folk may have. It has been on three, perhaps 4 separate sites, and now goes beyond and before (a Yes link there) the Iron Age, so its an Ancient Village now, heavily reliant on school trips to keep it running. We – the Brighton and Hove Archaeological Society trip – arrived on a chilly wet August morning, with packed lunches in our bags and promises of tea and cake in the afternoon. The fire in the big round house proved very attractive to me and several others, so lingering there was inevitable. Gorgeous atmosphere in it as well, not just the smoke.
I even discovered a stash of dry logs under the eaves of the roundhouse, so could keep the fire brighter and less smoky, once the bulk of our group had moved on with the guide. I was obliged to tour the rest of the site where I saw smaller round houses, a Roman Villa which has gone well over completion date and has caused all kinds of trouble because of disagreements between the site folk and the sponsor. But the latrine at one end of the villa is a big hit with school groups who also delight in the idea of a communal sponge on a stick for post-poo bodily cleanups.
We had tea in a Saxon house recently built. The main carpenter has space on the site for his green oak commercial business, which makes his time more affordable. A group of teenagers and young adults with learning difficulties helped put the frames up, which caused a compromise in tools used. A crane was brought in to aid the heavy lifting, rather than rely on the young people alone, or even kill a couple.
The big box in the foreground above is a box full of soil and ash, it contains the fire. I did not discover whether there was evidence for a fire place like this.
But it seemed to work OK.