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Massive thatched roof at Avebury to be replaced
9:36am Friday 4th October 2013 in News
A huge thatched roof on a 17th century barn at Avebury is being replaced by the National Trust thanks to a grant of £75,000.
The roof of the barn, which houses part of the archaeological museum at Avebury, is in urgent need of replacement having reached the end of its natural life.
Some parts of the roof have already been patched but now over two thirds of the roof will be removed and recoated thanks to funding from Viridor Credits Environmental Company, through the Landfill Communities Fund.
"It is a large and significant building right in the heart of Avebury," said Dr Ros Cleal, curator of the museum for the National Trust.
"This is a Grade I Listed 17th century former threshing barn which the trust has used as part of the museum since 2001. It is an important building but without the ability to replace this roof, the future of the barn would have been in doubt.
"The support from Viridor Credits has saved the building from deterioration."
In addition to the £75,000 from Viridor Credits Environmental Company, another £8,160 was raised from a raffle at Avebury and a further £16,000 was provided from the National Trust.
The barn measures 44m x 12m and is built from huge oak frames and trusses on a stone base. It dates from the late 17th century although some of the timbers date back to Medieval times.
The barn is thatched with wheat straw and the trust will be sourcing new straw for the roof locally. More than two thirds of the roof will be replaced along with the whole ridge line. A new combed straw thatched roof should have a life of 15 to 20 years – with the ridge replaced every seven to 10 years.
"The barn is important not just for housing the museum but as a building in its own right," added Dr Cleal.
"It has been an important part of Avebury village for hundreds of years and its construction is a testament to the skills of the people who built it, many of whom would have been from the local area."
The barn is also home to a population of five different species of bats - Natterers, Serotine, Pipistrelle, Brown Long-eared, and Soprano Pipistrelle - with the numbers varying throughout the year. The bats will be protected during the work on the roof.
During the restoration of the roof covering, visitors and local people will have the opportunity to watch and learn more about the thatching materials and techniques used by the craftsmen repairing the roof.
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