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Church House, South Tawton, Devon, UK





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Archive 4 - January 2005

Round Pegs in Square Holes?     Cynthia Gaskell Brown, 5th January 2005

While tree ring dating expert Ian Tyers from Sheffield University was taking sample cores from the Church House roof on 2nd December he noticed for the first time a number of carpenters marks on the roof timbers.  These carpenters marks are Roman numerals which were used to fit trusses and collars in the right position as the roof was put up.  But some numbers were not properly matched up. He also pointed out that some of the wooden pegs had been forced into their holes in an awkward way. Does this mean the roof was taken from another building and re-cycled?  Or was it taken down and put up a second time so the building could be altered? Could there have been a thatch fire which meant pulling the medieval roof apart?

This exciting discovery sent Peter Kilgannon and Cynthia Gaskell Brown to hunt down the carpenters marks on the roof timbers on 22nd December when they made a thorough photographic record.  At the moment the roof is rather like a giant jig-saw puzzle; the more we look the more complex it becomes.  When the dendrochronology and thatch studies come in from our experts Ian Tyers and John Letts we hope we will be able to suggest some answers.

Carpenter's marks (III)
Ill fitting wooden peg
Eroded beam - fire?

Further information

Please contact David Youle

Phone               01837 840418