Wattle & Daub: Craft, Conservation & Wiltshire Case Study
3.6 Daub
4.1 Soils
4.1.3 Strength
4.2 Dung
4.2.2 Lignin
4.2.3 Urine
4.3 Fibre
5.4.2 Renewal

Title Page Previous Next | Wattle and Daub in Wiltshire > Geology and Land Use

6.2 Geology and Land Use

Wiltshire has a diversity of geology and this reflects historic differences in land use.[126] The northern parts of the county are at the edge of The Cotswolds within the belt of oolitic limestone, incorporating the Bath Stone of the west, around Bradford-on-Avon and Box. To the southeast of the limestone belt lies an area of sands and clay before reaching the chalk of the Marlborough Downs and Salisbury Plain. Chalk is also the predominant rock of the southern parts, although the southwest also includes an area of Jurassic rocks. These areas are cut through by vales containing river deposits such as the Avon in Salisbury and Amesbury and the Wylye in Wilton [Figur[127]].127

Much rebuilding in stone occurred in the county, with vast quantities of limestone used in the north and west, chalk ‘clunch’ in the south and brick refacing throughout the county [Figure 45]. These materials often disguise timber framing, making it difficult to predict where wattle and daub might be found. Surviving structural frames exist throughout the county, although the majority are clustered in areas where stone was not initially available, such as to the east in the Pewsey Vale and the towns of Marlborough and Devizes. The medieval City of Salisbury also has a large number of surviving frames. This information was used to ensure fieldwork covered all main geological areas of the county.

It was explained in Section 3.1 that the timber-framing and materials used in wattle and daub reflect the distribution of timber trees and coppice in the vicinity. Domesday records show that Wiltshire had a high density of woodland in the north-western and south-eastern parts and varying amounts in others: the county was not as wooded as areas such as the Weald and West Midlands but neither was it devoid of timber [Figure 46]. However, Wiltshire was rich in coppice woodland, probably due to its use for sheep penning as well as fuel [Figure 47]. The predominance of coppice over timber woodland may be used to predict that withy would be more common than lath in the wattle and daub of Wiltshire buildings and could be tested by the fieldwork.

[126] The phrase ‘chalk and cheese’ originates in Wiltshire from distinct districts of farming practice. These reflected the suitability of the chalk and Cotswold hills to sheep and corn farming versus the clay and sand Avon Vale to dairy cattle farming.
[127] A detailed description of rock throughout the county is given by Geddes (2000).