Thursday, July 24, 2008

Home, Home on the Grange…Part One

…where the cows and the old fogies play. Where seldom we hit a discouraging pit, and the mattocks are ringing all day.

Scene One (exterior - daytime): Sunday July the 13th 2008: The sun’s shining, the cows are asleep, the gazebo is tethered to the bushes and the sound of shovels hitting rubble echoes across the patchwork quilt of the Wyre countryside. Grange Farm, Stalmine; a suspected mediaeval watermill platform now occupied by a gaggle of past-their-prime blokes, most of whom are standing round a hole watching Gary Thornton dig.

George: “Arh reckon w’en we dun diggin’, it ’ud be reet gradely t’ gae darn tha Black Bull an’ discuss us finds.”
: “Tha’ can’t discuss us finds yit! Tha Black Bull’s shoot! S’only 9.30 int’ mornin’ tha daft owd bugger.”
Fade to black. Fade back in on exactly the same spot. This time the hole’s a bit deeper.

: “Reet! S’ten o’clock. Pub’ll be oopen nae.”
: “Aye. Reet gradely! Tha’s a good idea Arh George. Let’s gae an’ discuss us finds in tha Black Bull lak us sed us shud. Shall us leave yon Gary darn t’ yon ‘ole?”
: “Nae lad. S’is round.”
Chris appears wearing wrinkled socks and clutching a broom.

: “Whatcha doin’ on me platform? Get off me platform! They’re alwez ’anging about on this platform. S’not reet, tha knows.”

Right, that’s enough of that. Roy Clarke’ll be suing me at this rate, if not for infringement of copyright then for making a mockery of his subtle scriptwriting. (I’m not saying a word…not a word, am not. Never a word’ll pass me lips no more, Norm. Not one word, iver agin, bah gum!)
So, where were we? Oh yes, on Sunday the 13th of July 2008 the highly trained (or house trained at any rate) team of experts from Wyre Archaeology once again met at the rear of Grange Farm and open
ed ‘Trench 002’ a bit to the south of the rubble-filled section of ‘Trench 001’.
The photograph below shows Chris Clayton entertaining the troops with his ‘I’m a Little Teapot’ song whilst Gary Thornton (out of shot at the bottom of the hole) heads for the earth’s core.

As you’ve probably gathered, this particular excavation bore an awful lot of similarities to the first one, making it difficult to come up with something new to write. For anybody interested, however, I did draw up another trench diagram. I’m thinking of collecting them together in a portfolio entitled ‘Pointless Drawings of Rubble. Volume Five.’ (The first four volumes still need compiling, of course, from our Bourne Hill excavations.)

As you can probably see (at least, you would be able to if you clicked on the thumbnail above and enlarged the image) the same combination of bricks, glazed pottery, lime mortar and large cobblestones came out of this trench that emerged from the original.
Want to see a scan of a brick? (Go on…live dangerously.) It was lying around on the ground near by, but it’s basically the same as those in the trench.

Good, isn’t it? Looks a bit like a currant loaf. Now look at the measurements: 2 inches thick, by 4 inches wide. That makes it pre-Tudor, because standardised brick sizes fitting these measurements (as opposed to the much larger, heftier and altogether less crudely designed Georgian and Victorian models) were introduced in 1517. And, yes, we really do get our jollies by studying bricks all day. You’ll understand when you’re older. If it hadn’t been snapped in two, we’d have been able to pin down the date more precisely from its length, but you can’t have everything.
And, with a certain amount of irony, after procrastinating whilst searching desperately for something to write at the start of this article, I’ve now realised that I’ve run out of space. So the rest’ll have to wait until the next instalment.


Andrew Highriser said...

Yeah, but who is the bloke showing us his best angle while delving into the historic site.

John said...

I thought I stumbled across a lost script from The Last of the Summer Wine there, for a minnit. Imagine my dissapointment...

Still, as long narratives about bricks go, this is certainly one of the finest I've read all morning.

One question, though... you say, and I quote "It was lying around on the ground near by, but it’s basically the same as those in the trench." Again, I quote, "If it hadn’t been snapped in two, we’d have been able to pin down the date more precisely from its length...". Well, putting two and two together, I get the question "Why haven't ye measured the bricks found in the trench?"

Go ahead... answer that one, will ya?

Cheers, JOHN :0)

PS Am awaiting sound of hand slapping forhead as heard across great distance of water.

John said...

PSS Why are my word verification words nearly always naughty? D'ya choose them yourself?

PSSS Please ignore mispellings in previous comment, as I am not quite meself this morning.

JOHN :0)

PSSSS Still awaiting...

Brian Hughes said...

That'd be Gary...and no doubt he'll be very flattered by your comment, Andrew.


Because the bricks in the rubble in the trench are broken into even smaller, more unmeasureable pieces. (Waiting for sound of head slap.)

As for the word verification, I suspect that the good people at Blogger are just pulling your PLNKRE.

John said...

Aha! But couldn't you, bored some rainy afternoon, sort those brick fragments out, place certain brick fragments together to form a complete brick, and then glue them in position, keep the cat away until the glue dries, and THEN measure the now complete brick? (Now awaiting 'gasp' of comprehension and the slight breeze created by the shaking of one's head as one wishes a certain bright American were there at the start of all this to help out).

Whadaya say now, smart guy?

Cheers, and looking for more, JOHN :0)

Brian Hughes said...

John, dark winter's afternoon. For the time being, however, we're trying to establish the size and shape of the building...after which we'll cross-section the rubble to find the robber trench into which it's been scooped and then establish the dimensions of the original sill. In other words, the rubble needs to remain in place for now. However, once we've done all that, I might sort some chunks out and send them to you in a box with a roll of Sellotape.

Jayne said...

I used to make current loaves that looked just like that brick..... hang on, now I know where The Spouse has been hiding my baking disasters!

Ozfemme said...

Those bricks look just like what I found in the bottom of Noise and Pencil's schoolbags at the end of last term.

Just saying, is all.....

Brian Hughes said...

Jayne and Bella,

To be honest it looks more like the result of one of my currant bun making sessions after its attempted to pass through my system.

Jayne said...

One word for you Brian -
Fibre !

John said...

Maybe you can explain to us good folk what a robber trench is, exactly, where to look for one, and why? I enjoy the educational aspects of this site.

Cheers, JOHN :0)

Brian Hughes said...


Two words in return: 'stinging' and 'ring'.


Basically, a robber trench does exactly what it says on the tin. It's a trench formed by the contents being robbed this case, most likely, sandstone blocks (which can be quite valuable in rural areas) originally forming the sill. The variations in stratigraphy when the rubble backfill is removed should be clearly visible, giving us some indication of the size of the removed component.

If that makes any sense...which, I must admit, if anybody had explained it to me in the fashion I've just explained it, probably wouldn't.