A metaphorical milestone

I think we’ve been working on the Roman gatehouse for 2 years now? Yes I could check, that’s why I have a blog, but I can’t be bothered just now. A point of some anxiety has been how to construct the blocks to hold the top of the gate pivot posts. Just as the arches had to be right, the gates also need to look right and move in the right way. Al finally worked out a plan, possibly prompted by the near arrival of Chris the stonemason, and cast the first of the two incredibly important blocks! I keep wanting to call them corbels, but corbels are meant to hold things up, whereas these blocks are for holding something in place below them. Anybody know what they are called? There must be a technical name for them apart from “big stone with a hole in to hold the gate pivot in place”.

The first metaphorical milestone, fresh out of its mould

Al made a rectangular mould with think plywood scavenged from a pallet to form the curve, and a bit of plastic drain pipe to leave the hole for the pivot post. This will remain in place and will be undetectable unless some irritating person goes up there on a ladder with a torch determined to find fault. And none of you would do that would you?

The hole needs to be vertical
Really, absolutely vertical!
And there it is!
Obviously I had to climb up Pallet Mountain for a closer look
The block from above
and Al from above
View from the battlements, to the south…
The north…
and the south-east
The back of the not-corbel, from inside a guard room
Proud builders, Al and Chris
Later in the day, with a course of blocks over it
The second block, just cast!
Honestly, I’d just done a load of pruning and tidying up. It was much worse before.

I took advantage of the spring sunshine to cut back the wormwood, southernwood, costmary and some other plants. And to observe how well traditional plants self-seed where you don’t want them…

Of course I now feel that we ought to have a real milestone. Out along Green Street perhaps?

Towcester library

Last Saturday I put on my posh frock and visited Towcester Library in my persona as Cyneswithe, abbess of Rumwoldstow. My main audience was pre-school children who love to spend their Saturday mornings in the library, so I had put some thought into possible activities, which included feel replica items in a bag and describe them before pulling them out and explaining them – which I think is a great idea but we didn’t have enough kids at any one time for that so I’ll hold it in reserve. Instead, I talked a little about how Towcester was near the border of two sets of immigrant communities, one of longer standing (Anglo-Saxons in Towcester) and one newer (Vikings at Northampton), told them a version of Thor’s Fishing trip, let them see a spear and shield, and showed them weaving, board games and everyday things. Oh, plus paper plates on which to draw their own shield.

Most popular were spear and shield, board games, and drawing. The tablut and nine men’s morris sets did well. Tabula didn’t appeal. Towcester Library is super and the people there are all lovely and enthusiastic. I look forward to a return visit!