Georgian Hot Tub Time Machine??! what is this...

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Kearn
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Georgian Hot Tub Time Machine??! what is this...

Post by Kearn » Thu 17th Aug, 2017 1:57 pm

right, I am at this stage resigned for this to remain a mystery, but thought it would be an interesting one to throw out there for thoughts now that I've finally dug out my laptop and can upload photos...

Context:
- house is late 1500s/early 1600s - timber framed, built with some wealth originally plus the early 1700s early Georgian wing addition also showing money
- 2 bay, passage etc where we believe the door to have been originally plus main room, with the same above on the second storey - roof vaulted
- never a hall house, and the chimney appears to have been built with the house itself rather than a later addition
- there wasn't much surrounding the house when built, slightly away from the medieval origins of the village centre on a prominent position up a slight hill (Sonning, Berkshire)
- a single skin brick animal shelter adjoins the cottage very soon after original construction, against the wall with the chimney which would have briefly been external (this also has a very high c.3.5m ceiling almost fully vaulted to the original roof)
- there looks like there would have been a wide (size tbc) entrance on the external wall opposite the chimney and this is the direction that brick on end floor traces have drained
- there is also evidence of an opening on the adjoining wall where a door is currently

rough scribble hopefully shows the plan as described:
FullSizeRender.jpg
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Now, the Q - what is the almost circular construction shaded in the old animal shelter?!

Viewed from door at top left of plan:
IMG_1746.JPG
IMG_1746.JPG (144.62 KiB) Viewed 1291 times
Viewed from left of plan:
IMG_1689.JPG
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A few details:
- room is 14 x 14 feet
- to external edges is it approx. 9 feet in diameter
- it is of later construction than the shelter, early to mid-Georgian bricks, although could obviously be recycled and later still
- it was built inside so valuable / needing to be dry
- the foundations are substantial, 4 or 5 courses under original floor level, supported on flint under - so this supported weight
- no real floor found, with the exception of an area of smoothed natural chalk next to the chimney about 3 courses down from original floor level which had a circular hole about 1 inch diameter and about 10 inches deep
- the top surface seen was not the surface, the wall was taller but unfortunately this room was under modern concrete so this is all that has been hidden
- depth of wall is c18 inches, 2x bricks
- it is intentionally built in a curve, but not a circle, more a slight oval with one flatter edge and obviously butted against the rear of the chimney
- the inner face was left bare by the looks of it an not too be seen
- the outer face has some traces of lime render, but under floor level so probably functional rather than aesthetic (heat retention?)
- it almost meets two of the external walls, although these could have had large openings
- there is potential trace of a 'buttress' similar width wall but not tied in so probably later, which would be pointing towards the corner bottom left of the plan
- ground is sandy with chalk/flint
- odd bits of pottery found, but not masses, lots of broken clay smoking pipes (medium wealth holes), some bones including a few pieces of human, 2 seas shells

Some thoughts that have been mused to date:
- fire pit - quickly dismissed as chimney has always been there and this is much later than the room it is in - also no traces of soot on rafters
- a well - obviously not, indoors, too big and doesn't go down anyway
- mill stone - not really enough space / access for a donkey to turn as couldn't walk around fully
- kiln - some traces of pottery found, but not excessive amounts
- oven - would have been very large, and if so often built in more of a tunnel shape to minimise the domed load of the roof
- ice house - similar size, but doubtful inside and doesn't really go deep enough
- some sort of cock fighting pit

I'll upload a few more images, although it is hard to capture in the room

any ideas?!? :?

Kearn
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Re: Georgian Hot Tub Time Machine??! what is this...

Post by Kearn » Thu 17th Aug, 2017 2:03 pm

Viewed from bottom of plan, by door next to fireplace and showing the only trace of Georgian era paver floor/path
IMG_1753.JPG
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Viewed from top centre of plan where door now is
IMG_1781.JPG
IMG_1781.JPG (134.53 KiB) Viewed 1289 times

Pennyviz
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Re: Georgian Hot Tub Time Machine??! what is this...

Post by Pennyviz » Thu 17th Aug, 2017 2:51 pm


livias
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Re: Georgian Hot Tub Time Machine??! what is this...

Post by livias » Thu 17th Aug, 2017 3:56 pm

My immediate thought was cock fighting pit too

Kearn
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Re: Georgian Hot Tub Time Machine??! what is this...

Post by Kearn » Thu 17th Aug, 2017 4:17 pm

Pennyviz wrote:
Thu 17th Aug, 2017 2:51 pm
Maybe old cider press?

see:

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File ... 205601.jpg

Penny
That was a thought, or similar with a circular stone to squish/grind something. Problem is it isn't actually circular, so if they could get a stone to be round I'm pretty sure the brick wall would be easy!! Plus there are no traces of a solid floor, or foundations for one, so not sure what would be pressed onto. And access for someone/something turning the stone would be limited in situ. Whatever the walls supported had some substantial weight though...

Thanks for this though, I'll do some more digging (the laptop kind!!). We have apple tress dotted around gardens here, so possible a few hundred years ago this area was all orchard.

Kearn
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Re: Georgian Hot Tub Time Machine??! what is this...

Post by Kearn » Thu 17th Aug, 2017 4:19 pm

livias wrote:
Thu 17th Aug, 2017 3:56 pm
My immediate thought was cock fighting pit too
A bit uncouth though surely!?! Only very small traces of bones, but likely rabbit and the like from the fire as there were concentrated at the side of the stack.

I have a few bits of human rib, part of a hip joint, a small flat vertebrae and a couple of broken bits of arm/leg bone though...
I did wonder about an ancient, small person Fight Club...!

Pennyviz
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Re: Georgian Hot Tub Time Machine??! what is this...

Post by Pennyviz » Thu 17th Aug, 2017 5:57 pm

How did you recognize them as human rib etc, surely v similar to other similar sized mammals eg deer or calf?

How do you know circular structure dates after walls? Just wondering if the remains are human then what they would be doing in that kind of structure? Thinking plague pit, crematorium etc


Penny

Kearn
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Re: Georgian Hot Tub Time Machine??! what is this...

Post by Kearn » Thu 17th Aug, 2017 6:21 pm

Pennyviz wrote:
Thu 17th Aug, 2017 5:57 pm
How did you recognize them as human rib etc, surely v similar to other similar sized mammals eg deer or calf?
Can't be 100% sure by sight, but that is what they look like. Not an expert view from me by a long shot, although my fireplace guy has been digging up floors and fireplaces from the Tudor period for 42 years... what is odd is the lack of a whole or even semi skeleton, just occasional pieces of broken bones around the room.
Pennyviz wrote:
Thu 17th Aug, 2017 5:57 pm
How do you know circular structure dates after walls? Just wondering if the remains are human then what they would be doing in that kind of structure? Thinking plague pit, crematorium etc
Bricks. Walls and foundation plinth in the animal shelter are old Tudor bricks, close to the same age as the chimney itself. The round structure is made of Georgian bricks, and not that early either. So a good century + between them. Assuming they were laid new and not recycled... The bones weren't just in the pit, in fact mostly outside. Very little of interest came from inside it at all. Just infilled soil. There's no more bones than would be expected, probably less in his experience. Definitely not burial related, effectively indoors! But it certainly was industrial. And that volume of bricks wouldn't have been cheap back then...

I'm baffled!

Abi Cott
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Re: Georgian Hot Tub Time Machine??! what is this...

Post by Abi Cott » Thu 17th Aug, 2017 10:05 pm

Any second year archaeology student should be able to ID the bones for you. Mistaking pig for human is the most tricky one.

Was the base of the circular area waterproofed? Is there evidence of a clay layer introduced to aid moisture retention. Conversely is the original ground surface sandy? That might give you some clues to the original use.

If you want a bizarre suggestion how about a rabbit warren?

livias
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Re: Georgian Hot Tub Time Machine??! what is this...

Post by livias » Fri 18th Aug, 2017 7:55 am

Still keen on the cockfighting pit idea. Lots of old clay pipes would fit with it being a social space. Also having no plaster finish on the inside but plaster on the outside to help bind the wall together

Kearn
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Re: Georgian Hot Tub Time Machine??! what is this...

Post by Kearn » Fri 18th Aug, 2017 1:27 pm

Abi Cott wrote:
Thu 17th Aug, 2017 10:05 pm
Any second year archaeology student should be able to ID the bones for you. Mistaking pig for human is the most tricky one.
Yeah, haven't got that far yet, will also have the pipes aged out of curiosity...
Abi Cott wrote:
Thu 17th Aug, 2017 10:05 pm
Was the base of the circular area waterproofed? Is there evidence of a clay layer introduced to aid moisture retention. Conversely is the original ground surface sandy? That might give you some clues to the original use.

If you want a bizarre suggestion how about a rabbit warren?
Nope, nothing at all to indicate that it was more than foundations - original floor height was actually about the same level as the highest course, so quite possible there was no pit at all, but only a structure above floor. The ground is sandy, with chalk and flint - thankfully dry down to the couple of feet that I've dug...

Kearn
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Re: Georgian Hot Tub Time Machine??! what is this...

Post by Kearn » Fri 18th Aug, 2017 1:41 pm

livias wrote:
Fri 18th Aug, 2017 7:55 am
Still keen on the cockfighting pit idea. Lots of old clay pipes would fit with it being a social space. Also having no plaster finish on the inside but plaster on the outside to help bind the wall together
If indeed it was a pit, and not just foundations for something above ground level...the top surface visible is amount the same height as original floor level would've been. Therefore the traces of plaster would/could have been underground and functional not aesthetic.

I did think that about the concentration of pipes, although (yet to be dated) their style is quite early which would possibly pre-date the bricks used in the circular structure.

The plot thickens...!

Abi Cott
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Re: Georgian Hot Tub Time Machine??! what is this...

Post by Abi Cott » Fri 18th Aug, 2017 1:57 pm

Clay pipes are found in abundance on sites of the right date. They are very fragile and being carried around daily led to enormous numbers of breakages. They can almost be considered one of the first disposable items. If you consider an average working man might have broken one a week if he was doing a labour intensive job, large assemblages start to be seen in a different light.

Kearn
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Re: Georgian Hot Tub Time Machine??! what is this...

Post by Kearn » Fri 18th Aug, 2017 2:07 pm

Abi Cott wrote:
Fri 18th Aug, 2017 1:57 pm
Clay pipes are found in abundance on sites of the right date. They are very fragile and being carried around daily led to enormous numbers of breakages. They can almost be considered one of the first disposable items. If you consider an average working man might have broken one a week if he was doing a labour intensive job, large assemblages start to be seen in a different light.
Totally agree, and for the amount we have found given the functional nature of the room and it's changing usage over the centuries, it isn't surprising at all. I didn't mean a concentration in terms of volume more that they were more concentrated in a few areas of the room...but again that isn't overly surprising.

livias
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Re: Georgian Hot Tub Time Machine??! what is this...

Post by livias » Fri 18th Aug, 2017 2:34 pm

But not necessarily. I have now extensively renovated a 1550s farmhouse and a 1480s farmhouse turned butchery turned labourers cottage and have found only one clay pipe in all my unearthing

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