Building Timber

The "witch-post" was found in Yorkshire as a protective amulet - it was always made of ROWAN wood, and marked with an inscribed cross. It always formed part of the structure of a house, usually under the crossbeams of the timber framework (Davidson). The old Scots word for a cross-beam in the chimney is rantree, because it was so often made of rowan (F M McNeill). SWEET CHESTNUT timber is unsafe. Taylor. 1812 said that "it is very apt to be shaken, and there is a deceitful brittleness in it which renders it unsafe to be used as beams.". Theophrastus seems to agree, for he reported a case where chestnut beams in a public bath gave warning before they broke, so that all the people in the building were able to get out before the roof collapsed (Meiggs). Evelyn, though, was enthusiastic about the quality of the timber. "The chestnut is (next the oak) one of the most sought after by the carpenter and joyner : it hath formerly built a good part of our ancient houses in the city of London ...".

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