Rebuilding the Past

The Howick House, as befits its importance, has managed to have become the subject of two reconstructions to date. An experimental reconstruction took place at the Maelmin Heritage Trail at Milfield, Northumberland. The work took place over a fortnight in the late autumn of 2002 to answer some of the questions raised about the construction of the Mesolithic hut. This reconstruction was undertaken for the BBC, as part of their ‘Meet the Ancestors’ series. The angle of the outer stake holes excavated at Howick suggested the angle of the roof should be around sixty degrees. At Milfield it was decided to lower this angle. This reconstruction was thatched with local grasses. It is not known what the original roof would have been made from though the robustness of the timber construction supporting it would suggest thatch or turf as opposed to lighter materials such as animal skins.

The reconstruction at Howick, pictured here, stood as near to the site of the original house as possible. The timbers occupy the same footprint as at Milfield but here we have a more accurate representation of the roof angle. The Howick reconstruction has been roofed with turf.

Of the two reconstructed huts only the one at Milfield can still be seen. The harsh winter of 2010 caused some major structural problems at both sites. The thatched hut at Milfield is in need of some attention but the hut at Howick slumped dangerously and the reconstruction has been domolished.

As well as appearing in an episode of ‘Meet the Ancestors’ the BBC covered the Howick excavations and the reconstruction of the house as part of it’s ‘Coast’ series.being featured