As some of you may already have heard a fire broke out a few days ago at
the reconstructed Anglo-Saxon village of West Stow in Suffolk. One of
the larger reconstructed houses was entirely destroyed (according to
local reports) and its contents reduced to ashes. The police are
treating the incident as suspicious (no jokes about them looking for
thirty hairy Norse types in a longboat seen leaving the area - please!).
Sad though the incident is I was struck by the opportunities the fire
may have given to archaeologists. A great number of similar dwellings
must have been destroyed by fire in the past. Has anyone ever been able
to study the immediate aftermath of such a fire before? Is it possible
to relate the gradual decay that will occur over the next few months at
West Stow to excavated examples of similar dwellings? I am not sure what
the plans are for reconstruction at present and wondered if the managers
at the park might be prevailed upon to rebuild upon a fresh site -
leaving the burnt remains to decay naturally.
Just a thought.