BUTSER ANCIENT FARM ARCHIVE 1973-2007 Archivist Christine Shaw
Home History of the Project Research Publications Image Archive
Back to top


The following text has been taken from “Iron Age Farm: the Butser Experiment” by Peter J Reynolds (1978)

Notice that he uses the word “reconstructions”, he later preferred the term “construct” because reconstruction implies the rebuilding of what is left. In the case of the Iron Age, building materials rarely survive and so construct is a better description.

“Today, whenever experimental archaeology is mentioned, most people immediately think of reconstructed houses. This is understandable, especially with prehistoric houses, since they have a tremendous visual impact and are more likely to remain in the memory than an abstruse series of equations or a set of yield figures. People can identify with a house and enjoy imagining what domestic arrangements may have been within it. They also enjoy quarrelling with the method of construction adopted and offering alternative views. Every man, it seems, is a thwarted builder.

At the outset it is vital to stress that the houses and structures built are not necessarily at all like the buildings of the Iron Age. They are simply constructs based upon excavated evidence. Each construct is but a physical realisation of one possible interpretation, and for each set of archaeological data there are many possible interpretations. The only claim that can reasonably be made is for the validity, not the historical accuracy, of the structure if it stands up and withstands the elements for any length of time.

Each house is a total experiment in itself. Every effort is made to maintain a standard consistency of approach. If, for example, the evidence suggests daubed walls, then all of the walls of that house are daubed with the same mixture in the same way. No attempt has been made to insert panels of different wall covering for comparison exercises. The reason for this is straightforward; the houses are round and the weathering pattern will, therefore, differ proportionally, and it is only acceptable to compare like substance with like substance.….”

The following pages detail the individual roundhouses built by Peter Reynolds.

The Turf House

The Maiden Castle House

The Balkesbury House

The Moel y Gaer House

The Pimperne House

The Longbridge Deverill Cowdown House

The Moel y Gerddi House