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Now here's a challenge - what wood is this?

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Yojevol

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Scaffold Pole.JPG


This was the challenge put to me a few hours ago. It was found recently in an original wall of a Saxon church in Gloucestershire. It is a very important discovery as it is probably the remains of a scaffold pole dating from the time of construction. It could give us a very good idea of exactly when the church was built if we can get it dated. We know it was sometime around 900AD.
I declined to give an opinion'
Over to You

Brian
 

Bm101

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No idea but oak has to be a strong contender no? Great question btw. I hope the more knowledgeable members can help.
 

stuckinthemud

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Elm has the best record of survivability in a damp/wet archaeological context. That'd be my first punt, grain looks very like a piece of elm I had delivered recently too
 

Yojevol

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There's a fragment of bark top-right. That might be useful if I can get to see it. There doesn't appear to be any sign of sapwood which would discount oak but might support ash which would be good scaffold material.
 

Terry - Somerset

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No idea about the wood - but putting its use as scaffolding into the thought process, they may have used wood that was (a) easily available locally, and (b) grows straight in the right sort of dimensions.

Possibly something that would have been managed and coppiced?

Durability would have taken second place as once it had served its scaffolding purpose, it would have been used as fuel for heat and cooking.
 

baldkev

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South african mahogany!

Ive got no idea, but i was in timber yard with a guy i used to work for, there was a few local carpenters looking at a bit if wood, on of them saw jeremy and said 'hey jerry, what wood is this?'
We went over and it was a cool looking bit of reddish stuff, hardwood, but had been used as a bearer. Without hesitating he went thats *insert your own name because i cant rember* and turned and walked off.....

I caught up with him and said wow, how did you know that?? And he said 'i dont know what the hell it is, but nor do they'
🤣😂
 

kinverkid

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Oak in my opinion would be easily identified even though at the time would possibly been the preferred wood so, because of the bark and the reddish colour I think it's possibly chestnut.
 

Sgian Dubh

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I declined to give an opinion'
Brian
I'd say that was the wisest opinion you could provide given the circumstances. If it's really important to know, the best bet might be to get a sample tested by someone with a wood science background. I think I'd start by contacting people such as TRADA or Timber Engineering specialists at places such as Napier University. Slainte.
 

BEE13

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See if you can gently clean up the end grain and look at it through a powerful magnifying glass or low powered microscope and refer to this site. It has lots of images that will help you identify it.


Brian
 

Droogs

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A dendrochronologist will be able to tell how old and when the tree was cut down. You may want to contact these guys Oh and species, but given the properties of Ash and its use in bow making the builders of the time would know how good it would be as a support for building scaffold so that is my SWAG
 

Limey Lurker

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Oak in my opinion would be easily identified even though at the time would possibly been the preferred wood so, because of the bark and the reddish colour I think it's possibly chestnut.
My first thought was chestnut, because chesnut saplings grow pretty straight, and are used for Hop poles for that reason; a hop-garden being just a large but low scaffold.
 

Yojevol

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I bumped into the church warden this morning and he advised me that I'd got the build date wrong by 200 years :mad: The first record is at 800 and it is thought the church could have been 100 years old then. So we could be looking at 700AD. A couple of points of interest:-
The church would have been right on the banks of the Severn back then (it's now 200m away) and it is known that the river was a means of transport.
Willows were grown extensively in the immediate vicinity for basket making. However willow is fast growing but the specimen only grew to 5" or so in 50 odd years.
It's going to take ages to get anything definitive going on this. Everything to do with the church fabric has to go through the diocese and English Heritage 🥱
Brian
 

Jacob

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Quite common to find stone buildings built around an earlier timber structure. Saves having to pull down the original - take out the wattle and daub but leave the frame - clad it, fill it, build around it.
So your timber may have been part of the earlier church structure and not just a left over prop from building operations.
 

Danieljw

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I would say chestnut, here is a piece I cut out of my house in spain... it's about 300 years since it was put in place here.
1615732460252837510347448480828.jpg
1615732460252837510347448480828.jpg
 
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