Burning sea shells to make quicklime

Burning seashells - scallop - to make lime wash and mortar in the small kiln in Millstone Park

Burning seashells – scallop – to make lime paint and mortar in the small kiln in Millstone Park. Photo by Per Storemyr

Burning sea shells to make quicklime once was a great tradition in the North-Atlantic region. In Millstone Park, Hyllestad (W-Norway), we have built two limekilns, reviving old lime burning traditions, involving craftspeople, volunteers and the public. Recently we burnt sea shells to make lime paint and mortar! Read about the experiment in a new poster and web article.
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Novel micro-images of lime mortar destruction by frost weathering

Minute frost heaving in lime mortar, hardly photographed before. The ice crystal lifting the mortar flake at the centre is about 2 mm high. Note much ice below other flakes. Photo by Per Storemyr

Hardly photographed before: Minute frost heaving in lime mortar. The ice crystal lifting the mortar flake at the centre is about 2 mm high. Note ice whiskers also below other flakes. Photo by Per Storemyr

Frost is here again and thus weak building materials are at risk, for example traditional lime mortars applied during the last summer season. Over the last few days I was able to observe frost heaving in a lime mortar that has not properly hardened/carbonised due to recent rainy and moist weather. As far as I know, no one has previously documented such ice crystal growth, on a micro-scale. The phenomenon is akin to frost heaving in a soil profile: The force of growing ice whiskers lifting the uppermost parts of the soil. Continue reading

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Tjenester for kulturminnevernet: Hva gjør en geoarkeolog for steinbygninger, steinbrudd og bergkunst?

Veldig glad for at NRK skrev rett tittel: Fra arbeid med de gamle helleristningene på Kåfjordfeltet ved Alta. Foto: Skjermdump NRK (2014).

Glad for at NRK skrev rett tittel: Fra arbeid med de gamle helleristningene på Kåfjordfeltet ved Alta. Foto: Skjermdump NRK (2014).

Mange spør meg: Hva driver du med? Hvilke tjenester tilbyr du? Jeg er geoarkeolog og jobber med rådgivning og forskning knyttet til gamle steinbygninger, steinbrudd og bergkunst, svært ofte i forbindelse med restaurering, konservering og arkeologiske utgravninger. Under skal jeg fortelle om geoarkeologi, hvor jeg jobber, min erfaring og hvilke tjenester jeg tilbyr for kulturminnevernet. Ta gjerne kontakt om du har et spørsmål eller et potensielt prosjekt om «kulturstein»! Continue reading

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The limekiln at Hyllestad, Western Norway: Rebuilding a new, “historic” kiln for burning lime

Nokre av ovnsbyggjarane. Frå venstre: prosjektleiar Per Storemyr, Leif Akse, Terje Berner, Franziska Rüttimann, Jakob Solheim, Chris Pennock, Ann Meeks, George Murphy, Kjell Magnar Myklebust og Bjørn Idland.

Some of the limekiln-builders. From left to right: project leader Per Storemyr, Leif Akse, Terje Berner, Franziska Rüttimann, Jakob Solheim, Chris Pennock, Ann Meeks, George Murphy, Kjell Magnar Myklebust and Bjørn Idland.

Last year we built a limekiln at Millstone Park in Hyllestad, Western Norway, reported on this website. The kiln was built in a traditional fashion, following Roman and Medieval principles. Experimental archaeology! After one burn, which gave excellent quicklime, the kiln was, unfortunately, badly damaged. Cracks in the masonry! So we had to rebuild the kiln to be able to produce more quicklime! Over the last few months a team of professional, Norwegian masons and local volunteers, 15 people altogether, has undertaken the task: Just a little more work to be done, and soon we’ll have two(!) limekilns, one big and one small – for producing “historic” quicklime in the years to come. For restoring old stone buildings.

Below, you will find a report of the rebuilding, written in Norwegian. Use Google Translate if you are not familiar with the language. The report is written by me and was first published on the website of Millstone Park (kvernsteinsparken.no) a couple of days ago. I work part-time as an Associate Professor for Millstone Park and I am project leader and responsible for building, rebuilding and running the limekiln. Great combination of craft and theory, experimental archaeology! But I’m also involved, privately and through my company, Archaeology & Conservation Services, as a local volunteer. Building and running a historic limekiln is a very big task, many months of work for many people! And though the Norwegian Directorate for Cultural Heritage is a generous sponsor of the project, voluntary work is indispensable. Thank you all! And here’s the report, with many videos and photos: Continue reading

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Historien om et saghus i Gudbrandsdalen: Produksjon av kleberstein som ildfaststein til smelteovner

Rammesag for oppskjæring av store kleberbloker i Saghuset på Sagflaten: Foto: Per Storemyr (2018)

Rammesag for oppskjæring av store kleberbloker i Saghuset på Sagflaten: Foto: Per Storemyr (2018)

Bergverkshistorien er full av særegne beretninger. Hva med Einar Sagflaten? Han startet som kleberarbeider som 15-åring og holdt det gående i 43 år i et helt spesielt saghus for stein: Det fortsatt velbevarte saghuset på Sagflaten ved Sel i Gudbrandsdalen. Einar drev på i kulda og kleberføyka til helsa sa stopp og saghuset ble flyttet i 1982. Da hadde han skåret tusenvis av kleberblokker som skulle ut på lange reiser verden over, til Bilbao og Calcutta og Marokko. Der skulle blokkene brukes til å lage smelteovner for celluloseindustrien. Det handler om kleber som ildfaststein. Bli med på en reise gjennom enorme forandringer i steinindustrien – i løpet av bare 40 år. Det blir også en svipptur til kleberindustrien USA og ikke minst til de gamle jernverkenes masovner. For også her trengtes det ildfaststein. Continue reading

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Taken by the frost! The beauty and destructive force of ice growth on masonry

The beautiful micro-world of ice: Whiskers, a peculiar form of ice, growing from tiny fissures on lime plaster at Hyllestad, Western Norway. Width of image c. 2 cm. Photo by Per Storemyr

The beautiful micro-world of ice: Whiskers, a peculiar form of ice, growing from tiny fissures on lime plaster at Hyllestad, Western Norway. Width of image c. 2 cm. Photo by Per Storemyr

After 29 years of working with weathering of cultural heritage, I have finally seen it “live”: How the force of ice can destroy plaster on stonework. It is more diverse than I though. A complex and fascinating world of beautiful forms of ice growth: Ice needles, ice whiskers, ice lenses. An entirely different thing than statements suggesting that the 9% expansion taking place when water freezes to ice breaks porous materials apart. Although supported by one case study only, what strikes me is the resemblance between ice growth and a more well-known weathering agent: Salt crystallisation – the growth of salt crystals destroying materials. My observations took place over the last few weeks, in Hyllestad in Western Norway, on the masonry of a copy of a historic lime kiln. Continue reading

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The world’s northernmost medieval marble church

Marble arch above the choir window at Gildeskål church in Northern Norway. Photo by Per Storemyr

Marble arch above the choir window at Gildeskål church in Northern Norway. Photo by Per Storemyr

The small, Romanesque Gildeskål church is one of the most complete marble churches in Norway. It resides at the magnificent coast along the Atlantic Ocean far up north, in Nordland county. And it is, presumably, the northernmost marble church in the world. Together with Giske church further south, it is part of outstanding, but little known, medieval marble architecture in Norway, of which Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, with thousands of marble columns, is the most spectacular example. Continue reading

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Frostforvitring på kulturminner: Bilder av et fenomen få har dokumentert og formidlet

Islinse sprenger ut et flak av en puss/slemming påført i juni 2017 på den nye, «middelalderske» kalkovnen i Hyllestad (Ytre Sogn) i januar 2018. Bildebredde ca. 5 cm. Foto: Per Storemyr

Islinse sprenger ut et flak av en puss/slemming påført i juni 2017 på den nye, «middelalderske» kalkovnen i Hyllestad (Ytre Sogn) i januar 2018. Bildebredde ca. 5 cm. Foto: Per Storemyr

Mange har meninger om frostforvitring på kulturminner, på stein, murverk, puss og mørtel. Men det er få som har dokumentert og formidlet fenomenet med bilder. Derfor er det mye synsing om «isens ødeleggende kraft». Her presenteres nye fotos av hva som faktisk kan skje når kalkmørtel blir offer for frost. Det dreier seg bl.a. om islinser som dannes og vokser i eksisterende svakhetsplan og sprenger biter bort. Stedet er den nye, «middelalderske» kalkovnen i Kvernsteinsparken i Hyllestad i Ytre Sogn. Continue reading

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Burning the beaches. Happy New Year from the Faroe Islands!

Hvitanes "White Cape". Just to the north of capital Torshavn at the Faroes. Grand sea shell deposits that were, presumably, used for lime burning already in the Middle Ages. Photo: Per Storemyr

Hvitanes – “White Cape”. Just to the north of capital Torshavn at the Faroes. Grand sea shell beach deposits that were, presumably, used for lime burning already in the Middle Ages. Photo: Per Storemyr

The Faroe Islands, in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean. Basalt and other volcanic stone everywhere! Yet, many buildings on the islands were erected by the use of lime mortar, from the Middle Ages on. There is absolutely no limestone on the Faroes. Thus, lime mortar had to be produced by “burning the beaches” – collecting shells from beach deposits, stacking the shells above a fire in a field kiln – and let it happen: Hold the temperature at some 900 degrees centigrade for a couple of days, and out comes quicklime to be mixed with water and beach sand for the mortar. Continue reading

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Værnes: Norges mest komplette sandsteinskirke fra middelalderen

Dypt inne i Værnes kirke: En 800 år gammel gang i vesttårnet. Sandstein på vegger, sandsteinsheller i tak og gulv. Foto: Per Storemyr

Den er dekorert med elementer av kleberstein og klorittskifer, men ellers er det sandstein så langt øyet kan se: Værnes er Norges mest komplette sandsteinskirke fra middelalderen! Den rager i størrelse og volum av brukt sandstein langt over middelalderbyggverk i tilsvarende stein i andre deler av landet! Her er et sammendrag av min artikkel til boken «Værnes kirke – en kulturskatt i stein og tre» som ble utgitt i 2016 og som nå er tilgjengelig som open-access. Det er Grubleseminaret som står bak, med Morten Stige og Kjell Erik Pettersson som redaktører – og ikke minst Kjartan Hauglid som bilderedaktør! Continue reading

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