The finished construct is illustrated below, before any experiments had been undertaken. Its size, shape and general working arrangements were based on the most complete excavation of four similar buildings. The under-
Peter Reynolds argued that early interpretations of such structures are flawed (Reynolds and Langley). Much had been made previously, of the presence of charred grains but interviews with farmers showed that it is commonplace to use dry straw (which always has a small residue of grain) to start fires for farming purposes. What better kindling could there be?
The greatest flaw, however, is technological. All the evidence, both at the type site, used for the Butser construct, and at other survivals, is that the floor was sealed. Thus, NO air flow through the grain bed can occur, to carry away the evaporating water. An analogy may be made to the barrier to the drying out of soils created when the surface is tilled (Ploughing, Hoeing)
So, even though the experiments showed that slow drying was possible, the time involved to dry a complete harvest would appear to be unrealistic (700-
Supplementary experiments demonstrated that the barn readily produced "malted" grain, a key preliminary in the brewing process, a widespread and long-
The conclusion is that structures in the category tested are at least as likely (and more than probably so) to be malting floors rather than drying barns, whilst other purposes, as yet unrecognised, are not excluded.
Reynolds P.J. and Langley J.K. "Romano-
For images of the construction click here.