On this warm sunny Saturday afternoon members of Cortambert notre Patrimoine turned out for a second session of excavating the ancient four à chaux. It’s a feature of Varanges after which our road was recently named. In the nineteenth century lime was mixed with sand for use as a mortar when building stone houses.
Raymond continues to excavate the existing oven
and stabilises the walls with a lime mortar.
He uses his divining rods to find the position of the walls of a second kiln
We discover another vaulted roof and Hubert begins to remove the earth in front.
Marianne and Pascale come to help
It was a good afternoon’s work and it was satisfying to find the second kiln after all that digging. It looks like tons of earth still have to be removed so we can look forward to some more Saturday afternoon sessions during the summer.
We’ve recently been given street names. We’ve always been just lieu-dit Varanges. No problem for the postlady who knows everyone but it’s difficult for delivery men with white goods or building supplies. We are to be the rue du Four à Chaux as our road leads up past the ancient lime kiln.
The lime kiln – before
Lime was used by farmers to improve the soil, It was made by heating up small pieces of limestone to a high temperature for a couple of days. Being at the edge of the forest it is likely that bundles of twigs were used to heat the kiln. The lime was then raked out into an adjacent pit.
Possible structure of the ancient lime kiln
This afternoon with our local heritage society, Cortambert, notre Patrimoine , we went up to the lime kiln to do a bit of excavating.
Our team today – Raymond, Chris, Claire, Marianne, Sophie and Pascale
There was not a lot to see to begin with, just a little space under an arch of stones. But Raymond, using divining rods, worked out where the walls of the kiln were, and the location of the walls of a pit next to it.
After a couple of hours we had made good progress clearing out dead wood and brambles, and digging down to the floor of the kiln.
Hard at work!
Winter is a good time for clearing undergrowth and we will look forward to another session of digging soon. Any volunteers will be most welcome.