Group A Data Report – Week 9/10

For our final lab, we constructed an Anglo-Saxon mortuary house. Unfortunately, the weather gods abandoned us in our time of need––our scheduled lab was rained out, and as a result, we had to divide the process into four ~1 hour long blocks.

Block One – Wednesday, May 26th

Instructions: go into Lower Arb and collect 36-40 wattle weavers (1” diameter; 4-6’ height) and 6 stakes (1-2” diameter; 3-4’ height).


  • Start time (from when we entered the woods) = 11:52am
  • The wattle weavers were easy to find
  • The stakes were harder
    • The brush in our area was pretty consistently thin; we decided that the thicker wattle weavers could also serve as stakes, if necessary
  • Both cutting tools were efficient
    • One groupmate said, “I thought this would be more difficult to be honest. The act of cutting takes like 5 seconds.”
  • Dividing and conquering (marking duty and cutting duty) was not the most productive, since our green ribbon blended in with the flora
Spot the green ribbon
  • At 12:12pm, we started trimming excess leaves and branches
  • We found a pile of dead wood that provided us with some more suitable stakes
  • By the end of the block (12:40pm), we had a total of 26 wattle weavers and 6 stakes
  • Carrying them back was a challenge, and we realized many of our sticks were too curvy

Block Two – Friday, May 28th

Instructions: Start constructing wattle wall (120cm width; 90 cm height)


  • Start time (from when began processing our materials) = 11:17am
  • Trimming was a two person job; person A sorts, holds, and rotates the wattle weavers while person B trims excess leaves and branches
    • This went much faster once we started leveraging from farther inside the snippers
  • Axe-sharpening the stakes was a one person job, but it took a lot of getting used to
    • Time to sharpen one stake went from 7 minutes to 6 minutes to 3 minutes to 2 minutes (also depending on how thick each stake was)
  • We hammered 5 stakes into the ground, spaced ~24cm apart
    • We later realized that one of the end stakes was spaced too far from its neighbor
  • We could not get our stakes 6” into the ground, but we got them about 3” in and started weaving higher up
  • We hit a groove when we started weaving, since we all have experience with it after the Wool and Cordage labs
    • One groupmate said, “it’s all about using the bends in the wood to your advantage”
    • Major challenge––our end posts curved away.
  • We got about a third of the way to our goal by the end of the block
A third of the way to our end goal

Block Three – Monday, May 31st

Instructions: Finish constructing wattle wall; attach wattle wall to house structure


  • Start time (from when we returned to our wattle walls) = 11:20am
  • As the rest of the house structure came together, we had to adjust the width and height of our wall to fit
    • Our wall was 150cm wide, so we decided to remove one of the end stakes; this put us at ~123cm
      • 30 minutes later, we were told we would need to cut down to 110cm
  • We realized we had to wrap more of our wattle weavers around the end stakes to keep the wall from falling apart, but most of them were too thick
    • We sawed off the ones that were too thick
  • At 11:47am, our stakes started coming out of the ground; we tried to hammer them back in, but were not successful
  • At 11:52am, we ran out of wattle weavers and began depending on collectors from other groups
  • By 12:14pm, our wall was so slanted and unstable that we determined we would need twine to hold it together
    • This helped us reach 109cm width
Our completed wall (pre-attachment)
  • We pulled our stakes out of the ground and only lost one wattle weaver
  • When we went to attach our wall to the house structure, it was still too wide, so we sawed off the ends even more closely
Sawed ends

Block Four – Wednesday, June 2nd

Instructions: Daub wattle wall


  • Start time (from when we made our first trip to the bank) = 11:26am
  • We collected our mud from the lower bank of the creek
  • We could not carry too much at a time because the buckets were so heavy
  • Our daub was far too sandy, even when kneaded with water and straw
    • One groupmate said, “the balance between enough straw and too much straw is difficult to achieve” 
  • We made multiple trips to the bank trying to find the stickiest mud to even it out
    • The top layer was mud, everything below was sand; we had to scrape
    • The top layer mud was rocky
  • We realized that in addition to too much sand, our daub had too much water
    • We tried to drain the water multiple times by pick up the tarp at an angle
  • Eventually, we flipped over our pile of daub and started picking out the sand by hand
Sandy mud
  • We did not spend too long kneading so that we would have enough time to daub the whole wall
  • Our daub did not stick, especially at larger gaps
    • The daubers eventually developed a technique and made it work; when I asked them to describe their technique, they said it was mostly just instinct 
  • At 12:27pm, one of the groups that had already finished daubing their wall gave us their excess mud, which was much stickier
  • When we looked at our wall from the inside, there was a lot of light shining through––but nonetheless full coverage
  • We did not fill in the corners
  • We finished in the nick of time
Completed wall

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