West Stow: Anglo-Saxon house to be built using centuries old techniques

Cllr Sarah Broughton and Cllr Sarah Stamp start the digging for the construction of a new building a

Cllr Sarah Broughton and Cllr Sarah Stamp start the digging for the construction of a new building at West Stow Anglo Saxon Village. Back L-R: Rick Hoggart (consultant archaeologist), Jess Tipper (archaeology project manager), Damien Parker (Operations manager - leisure and cultural services), Lance Alexander (West Stow), Front L-R: Janet Connelly 'Edith' (village elder), Cllr Sarah Broughton, Cllr Sarah Stamp and Bob Connelly 'Wulfnoth' (village elder. - Credit: Archant

Work has begun on the construction of a new Anglo-Saxon house at a west Suffolk heritage site.

West Stow, which is a site of international archaeological importance and one of the first large-scale investigations of an early Anglo-Saxon settlement, is replacing one of the original buildings that was put up nearly 40 years ago.

Since its excavation nearly half a century ago, led by Dr Stanley West, five Anglo-Saxon buildings have been created at West Stow.

The experimental reconstructions remain unique, built on the footings of the excavated buildings and constructed using the same tools, techniques and materials that would have been used 1,500 years ago.

Yesterday, St Edmundsbury Borough councillors began work on digging a pit for what will be the floor of a new sunken house on the site.

Sarah Broughton, chairman of West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village Trust, said: “This is the start of an exciting project at the Anglo-Saxon village and we really hope visitors will come along and watch as this historic building, which is part of our heritage, takes shape.

“The original building which is being replaced is now beyond repair but this represents an opportunity for families and school children to come along and learn more about how these marvellous homes were made, some 1,500 years ago.”

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Timber framework for the new building, prepared by Needham Market-based Traditional Oak Carpentry, will be raised next Wednesday.

The timbers have been hewn by hand using tools and techniques from the era. A thatched roof will be added later in the Autumn, again using traditional methods.

Sarah Stamp, the council’s cabinet member for leisure, culture and heritage, said: “The West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village is recognised internationally as an important part of our borough’s heritage.

“We are incredibly proud of what has been achieved there over the last 40 years. It is an ever popular visitor attraction managed by staff and the Anglo-Saxon Village Trust on behalf of St Edmundsbury Borough Council.

“I am excited to be associated with the launch of this great project and would urge people to visit.”

A new donation box was also unveiled yesterday. Donated funds will support ongoing projects at West Stow Anglo–Saxon Village.

Visit www.weststow.org for details.