The Anglo-Saxon Art of Woodworking: The Latest Archaeological Evidence and Experimental Work
with Dr Damian Goodburn (Museum of London)
at Sutton Hoo, Saturday, 5th November 2016.


Beginning with a look at the woodlands in the Anglo-Saxon landscape and archaeological evidence for woodworking tools and techniques, we shall then examine different building techniques in timber, including joints and fastenings.  After lunch there will be a handling session of timbers and replica tools, along with a demonstration of use of the latter.

Provisional Programme

09.50 – 10.15:                Coffee on arrival

10.15 – 11.15:                A presentation of the archaeological evidence for Saxon woodlands and basic woodworking tools and techniques, contrasted with earlier and later evidence.

11.15 – 11.40:                Coffee break

11.40 – 12.40:                A detailed look at the evidence for different building techniques in timber, roundwood, and earthy materials, including joints and fastenings, etc.

12.40 – 14.00:                Lunch break

14.00 – 14.50:                 A handling session of Anglo-Saxon timbers and replica tools.

14.50 – 15.10:                Tea break

15.10 – 16.00:                A demonstration of use of Anglo-Saxon woodworking tools.

c.16.00:                            Thanks and Close

About Dr Damian M. Goodburn

Damian Goodburn briefly worked in traditional boat building and repair and harbour woodworking before studying archaeology.  He obtained a general archaeology Ba at UCL Institute of Archaeology, in 1982, and continued with a mixture of professional archaeology work and traditional woodworking until late 1985 when he joined the Museum of London’s Dept of Urban archaeology. From 1986 he specialised in working on waterlogged sites and occasionally standing buildings, recording and analysing larger scale woodwork.  This specialist work covered all periods, and included the remains of waterfront structures, buildings, wells, boats, ships, mills, vehicles and some smaller work.  Much of this work has been published in detail.  At the same time a part time Phd on the subject of ‘Early English boat building practice’ was completed by 2002.   Some of the study of early woodworking has been informed by targeted experimental archaeology including making reconstructions of objects, boats, and  early buildings of prehistoric to Saxo-Norman date.  He has also been involved in teaching and media presentation of the archaeology of woodworking since 1991 ( Time Team,  Secrets of the Ancients etc..).  Currently he works part time as the Archaeological Woodwork Specialist for MOLA and also other teams alongside teaching and demonstrating aspects of early woodworking from the Stone Age to pre-industrial times.

Some Suggestions for Optional Background Reading

Ayre, J,  & Wroe-Brown, R,  2015. ‘The Post-Roman Foreshore and the Origins of the Late Anglo-Saxon Waterfront and Dock of Æthelred’s Hythe: Excavations at Bull Wharf City of London’, with contributions by D, Goodburn and others, Archaeological Journal 172, pp.121-194 (Detailed summary of findings with sections on buildings and boats, including timbers from a large arcaded building of the mid-10th century).

Goodburn,  D,  1992. ‘Woods and woodland: carpenters and carpentry’,  in G, Milne, Timber Building Techniques in London c.900-1400,  London and Middlesex Arch Soc  Special Paper No. 15, pp.106-131 (Regional study of changing woodworking techniques  c. 900-1400).

Goodburn ,  D, 1999.  ‘A summary of the evidence for early medieval woodwork’, In J. Hill and A. Woodger, Excavation of 72-75 Cheapside 88-93 Queen Street City of London,  MoLAS Archaeological Studies  Series No. 2, pp.47-51 ( Site report with discussion of ‘treewrighting’ as distinct from later ‘carpentry’,  and Sunken building remains and reused building timbers of 10th century).

 Goodburn, D,  2001. ‘Wooden Remains as an Archaeological Resource: Some insights from the London wetlands’,  in S, Rippon, Estuarine Archaeology the Severn and Beyond,  Exeter,  pp.187-196 (Contrasts aspects of Roman and Anglo-Saxon woodworking, and shows use of  experimental archaeology).

Goodburn, D,  2009. ‘Treewrighting and woodland management in the 11th and 12th  centuries’, in D, Bowsher, T, Dyson, N, Holder & I Howell,  The London Guildhall,  MoLAS Mono 36,  pp.302-318   (Also in the same volume phased, detailed presentations and analysis with reconstruction drawings  of 11th and v early 12th century buildings).

Goodburn, D,  2011. ‘Characteristics of the Woodworking the Mill’, in P. Andrews, E, Biddulph, A, Hardy, & R, Brown,  Settling the Ebbsfleet Valley, High Speed 1,  Vol. 1: The Sites, Oxford Wessex Archaeology, Oxford (Details of general techniques and contrast with specialised early mill engineering AD 692).

Goodburn,  D,  2013.  ‘The woodwork assessment’,  in A Middleton, K, Graham, & D. Goodburn,  The recording and conservation of Middle-Saxon Waterlogged Woodwork,  Barking Abbey London,  English Heritage Research Report Series No 36, 2013 (Mill and Pillory timbers, general jointing techniques, later 7th to 9th centuries etc).

Hall, R,   1984. The Viking Dig,  London (Contains many general views of waterlogged Anglo- Scandinavian buildings found in York – wattle and post surface buildings and sunken floored structures, semi popular).

Milne, G, 1992. Timber building techniques in London c. 900–1400, LAMAS Special Paper 15, London (Evidence from waterfront constructions c.900 to 1400 showing differences between ‘tree-wrighting’ and ‘carpentry’, though term tree-wrighting not yet defined and used).

Wroe-Brown R, with Goodburn D, & Stewart, K, 2013. ‘Early water management on the  Waterworks River in Stratford, London E15’, London Archaeology 3:9, pp.231-234  (Fragmentary mid-Saxon wattle buildings built on foreshore temporarily exposed  by the later Roman–early Saxon drop in sea level, one of several such sites)