VM_365 Day 122 Ghosts of Iron Age timber preserved in plaster

VM 122

The image for VM 365 Day 122 shows in greater detail the Iron Age chalk plaster blocks found in at the base of an abandoned grain storage pit at North Foreland, shown yesterday under excavation. The scales in the images above are all 10 centimetres long.

A chalk paste had been used to make a form of plaster which had been spread over a timber structure, much like the clay daub that was often used in other places. Although the timber itself had rotted away, some of the blocks still had distinct voids and impressions that had been formed by the rods and sails of the supporting framework of wooden stakes.

An impression of a possible timber structure identified near the mouth of the pit suggests that these blocks may have formed part of a lining for the pit, or alternatively part of a superstructure built around the upper opening to the pit.  The blocks were tipped into the pit in pieces and covered with rubbish once it it was no longer used as a grain store.

Each of the blocks in the image above preserves a ghost of a timber stake in the voids left in the plaster that was spread around it. The dry chalky conditions of Thanet’s soils do not often preserve organic materials and finding a piece of timber that was two thousand years old would be a remarkable discovery. The closest we are likely to get are the negative ghost timbers that were preserved in these blocks of structural material at North Foreland.


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