Thursday, 14 July 2011

Range Archaeology

Today, I was clearing out the brick in-fill at the back of the old kitchen range, which was removed a few days ago - see First Kitchen Lum Reek in 50 Years! The intention is to open up this space to create an open fireplace i.e. to re-use the existing chimney. Re-use is a sound restoration principle.

Anyhow, as I was removing the brick rubble, I came across a "sooted surface" as an underlying layer in the archaeology. This is shown in the first photograph. The only explanation is that the range that was removed was NOT the original range in that position, and that the earlier range was somewhat deeper.

I decided to excavate to this level as shown in the second photograph. There were clearly three flues: a larger one in the centre, and two smaller ones at either side. In fact, the replacement range also had three flues in similar positions.

This discovery solves two mysteries:-

  1. The brick in-full was oddly untidy when everything in the castle is neat, so we wondered if it was later. In fact, the actual original 1860 brick in-fill that has just been discovered is neat
  2. The stove design always looked a bit Edwardian to me. So the evidence now suggests it is indeed later than 1860. I think the 1860 model would have been very heavy cast iron. Some of the panels of the replacement stove are quite thin, and have rusted through.

I suspect the inhabitants of the castle simply installed a new model of cooker at one stage, which was smaller, lighter and presumably more efficient.

The bricks behind the original flues, were I guess, intended to be heat resistant. In the top of the middle flue the bricks take their place in the stone wall. On the left and right and at the bottom of the central blue, half bricks are placed on their sides and stuck onto the wall to provide this heat-proof and air-tight surface. You can see the vertical dimension of the bricks in this orientation is slightly larger.

The result of all this archaeology is that a sooty smell now pervades the kitchen wing, and that I am as black as the ace of spaces! :-) A late night bath awaits. It is interesting how a smell created in the past emerges in the present!

I will be removing the brick in-fill for the original stove tomorrow too, but like any good archaeologist I am recording the historic layer for posterity. :-)

sooty surface in underlying layer behind lime mortar

the three 1860 flues excavated  i.e. three blackened brick columns

No comments:

Post a Comment