Installing Windows

Despite the rain, Chris the stonemason is back at work on the gatehouse. Little Anglo-Saxon windows! I guess the Roman gatehouse must have been in a semi ruined state when the builders of Rumwoldstow got to it, so they reconstructed it using the techniques with which they were familiar. Well, and a cement mixer…

Despite some pruning and weeding, the garden is still…quite good for wildlife? Ahem.

Gatehouse progress

After a slow start to the year, what with plague and other sundry delays, work has restarted on the Roman gatehouse! Brother Alf has cast the blocks for the archway pillars, added a scattering of fossils in the surface and hand-finished the surfaces to give them that worked stone look. Chris the stonemason has been at work building the pillars and adding to the walls.

Standing in the proto-tunnel, you can finally start to get a sense of the space.

The end pillars are cast stone – don’t they look nice? The main wall is breeze blocks but Alf is putting a surface render on them which significantly improves the appearance.

The mitred blocks for the semi-circular arches – voussoirs, if you want to be all technical – are being cast by an external company because they are Too Hard For Us! We have done our ‘O’ level trigonometry, repeatedly, jointly and severally, and we’re pretty sure we’ve provided them with the right dimensions, and they’ve understood them. But only when the 48 blocks are delivered will we find out if they fit together to make the right size of arch! Nervewracking!

Visits for Pandiona

We at Rumwoldstow celebrated the feast day of St Pandiona by welcoming a group of visitors. St Pandiona, likely an Irish princess, only died in 904 AD so may have been personally known to the nuns at Rumwoldstow in the year of 921; she was also associated with a well, not unlike our own dear St Rumwold. Anyway, I digress. These visitors were from a local re-enactment society, and spent the weekend doing crafts and getting weaponry into shape the better to defend us from Viking attacks.

One warrior practised with the sling, a simple yet highly effective weapon.


The next project was to complete three new shields; the handles and bosses had already been riveted on so we set to work edging them with leather. First step was to cut 5cm strips of leather and sew them into loops 4% smaller than the circumference of the shield.

We tried a couple of different ways of stitching the strips together so that they’d like flat. Tunnel stitching didn’t hold up well with this particular set of ingredients but the methods shown below were very successful.

The loops were soaked in cold water for an hour or two before being fitted to the shield rim.

After drying overnight, we drilled holes through leather and shield at about 2cm intervals and sewed the layers together with saddle stitch. The thread was a brown nylon thread because that’s what we had; artificial sinew would have been better.

Bonus abandoned wren’s nest found in the wood pile – the chicks will have long since flown.
We sewed in sections to fix the strip in place, and added an extra tab of leather to cover each join.
Completed shield, wielded with a single-handed spear made using a broken two-handed spear shaft and a new head.
Meanwhile, Brother Aethelwine made his habit and hood.
Rumwoldstow garden gave us nettles, sorrel leaves and white beetroot for our evening pottage
The local hedgehog (a juvenile) came to visit. Despite being out in the day, it looked healthy and lively so we left it alone.
We saw it, or an indistinguishable hedgehog, on another day in the orchard – it got about!
Orchard fruits – the first decent yield from the “Shropshire Prune” damson tree, and the first apples of any kind, “Wyken Pippin”, from the trees planted in 2018. The apples are small! Bigger than crabapples but much smaller than a modern commercial variety.