I’ve been here for three and a half weeks now, although it seems longer, as I have been so very busy. Things are progressing though. The first stage of identifying sites is complete, of the five I initially found four interest me and I am concentrating on two, one in the forest to the northeast of here, beyond a lake (site 2, see my previous posting for a description) and the other (site 1) is to the north. This site has proved much more extensive than I initially thought when I visited on the night of my arrival. The house was probably built in the early 1960s as evidenced by the dates on newspapers that were used as an underlay for the first layer of wallpaper. This I discovered in the cellar, where it is peeling off. It is empty of furniture, even the radiators have been removed. The kitchen is in a terrible state, the rest is just empty. There are two large rooms downstairs in addition to the kitchen and small attic bedrooms upstairs. There is a covered veranda at the entrance.
Both here and at the other sites, I have found that the exterior spaces around the houses interest me more than the interiors as they are often better indicators of the life of the settlement. In the case of Site 1, there is evidence of a variety of activities from different times that can be temporally and spatially mapped. A short distance to the northeast of the house, there is a greenhouse made of old window frames with a roof of corrugated plastic, like the veranda.
The wall is made from window frames that pre-date the house. There are also red ceramic roof tiles and fragments of a glazed ceramic stove lying around the site in various places that appear to be from an earlier building. It is quite possible that an earlier house was on the site before the current one.
To the east, at the top of a slight incline, there is a hunting hut. Next to this is a kiln or small oven, Littered around this part of the site there are a lot of artefacts including some specimens, in the form of an elk skull, a jaw bone and another skull I’m yet to identify.
I’ll be going back this afternoon to photograph this in black and white before I excavate it. I’m thinking of using it in the installation.
Around the site, there is another large barn, although I should say the site of another large barn, as it burnt down last April. This is so reminiscent of older archaeological sites that I have excavated, especially pre-historic wooden buildings. The trace that remains of the wood is charcoal, which becomes inert and is all that remains of homes and outbuildings from thousands of years ago. This is a valuable material both for carbon dating and wood identification. Here there is an over-abundance of charcoal. A rich resource for the work to come.
I am currently making a plan view of this in the studio. I managed to find someone to take an aerial photograph with a drone for me to work from using a projector. This is progressing well and I’ll post an image here later. I’ve also done some photo-grammetry of the barn;
I’ve visited this site five times, becoming immersed here, getting a strong and growing sense of the place. There is much more here than I’ve mentioned, so more to follow.
I’m writing field notes each time I go to the site, on a planning board. On visit 4, I got caught in a storm;
Just arrived and thunder is rolling around the forest. […] There is much more here than first I saw. It’s started raining and I don’t have a coat! Pouring, under a tree waiting for the rain to stop. The storm is over to the northwest, for now, I think it is heading south. Don’t know though. A burnt down barn is to my south. Quite violent thunder. The rain is easing, or setting in?
The storm has passed, for now… Bitten by mosquitoes!Extract from my field notes