Sorry to disgree with my friend Bill White, but in all my years in archaeology I have never come across a tanning pit lined with horncores (and I have seen and excavated numerous tanning pits in London, particularly in the Bermondsey area of Southwark since 1982).
The purpose of tanning pits requires that they must be as watertight as possible to retain as much of the 'tanning formula', over a considerable period of time (we are talking months and years here rather than days and weeks). I understand that the 'tanning formula', consisiting of a mixture of oak bark and urine would have been a relatively costly part of the process and every effort would have been made to conserve it. Horncores would not achieve that end as they are porous and do not form a watertight seal. Most London tanning pits are clay lined and it is that (and the distictinctive lingering aroma) that makes them fairly easy to identify.
The most likely reasons for using horncores to line medieval and post-medieval cess pits (as opposed to tanning pits) is because they happen to be available, are very durable and, once the outer horn has been stripped, of very little commercial value. The porosity of the cores and the non-watertight nature of the cess pit lining allows the liquid part of the cess to drain away, leaving 'solid waste' which can be shovelled out and away. (Not entirely unlike the nature of the settling tanks on a modern day sewage farm).
J C Blyth <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
What would have been the particular advantage of using horncores to line
pits? For what purpose would these pits have been constructed and what date?
My curiosity has been piqued!
Copy addresses and emails from any email account to Yahoo! Mail - quick, easy and free. Do it now...