Helping to solve historic building’s hidden past

A re-roofing scheme, project managed by NPS, has shed new light on the origins of one of Kendal’s most historic buildings.

 

The original roof covering material of the 14th Century Grade I listed Castle Dairy was greatly contested. However, NPS successfully negotiated with English Heritage, along with other conservation experts that Westmorland Green Slate would be the most appropriate material to use, since the existing 1960’s red sandstone roof was wholly inappropriate. During the project the discovery of various thick and early green roofing slates, similar to medieval examples found during excavations within nearby Stricklandgate served to support and authenticate this decision. Most unexpected was a further discovery of a single oak timber shingle, a form of timber roofing material that was perhaps once widespread, but now incredibly rare in Kendal.

 

Similarly, the buildings original construction date was also contested. However, the roofing works presented an opportunity for tree ring-dating to be carried out on the roof timbers, which are otherwise difficult to access. Results revealed that the timbers had been felled in 1480, and that therefore the building in its current form is at least medieval in date. This outcome contradicts suggestions that large sections of the building were added much later, which has been described by archaeologists as “hugely significant”.

 

NPS Building Surveyor Paul Scullion led on the project and said: “It has been a great privilege to work on a 14th Century building which continued to present various challenges but delivered such incredible rewards.”