May 3rd, 2007

International Kittens of Mystery

The Fontaine

Here's a few pictures to show our fontaine and the ongoing works.

Picture One shows the fontaine after we'd cleared the undergrowth - imagine a jungle of nettles and impenetrable bramble covering the entire site from the log pile down. The small tor in the top left of the picture is the site of the medieval ruin which was built onto the bed rock there. The six ash trees looking like six vertical spikes coming out of the rock mark the walls - for some reason the trees sprouted in or next to the walls. And you can just make out part of the rear wall of the ruin in between the second and third rightmost trees.

The right and bottom walls of the fontaine aka 'the hole in the ground' are dressed stone. The left wall is rock, soil and rubble and has slumped in. And the top wall is bedrock with a curving concrete dam separating the source from the main pool. A channel has been created through the bottom wall to allow it to drain.

Picture Two shows my dry stone walling - which was not easy. Imagine hauling 40 kilo rocks from the ruin, then standing in the oozing mud working out where to place the rock while you steadily sink deeper into the mud at about one centimetre per second.

But it was fun. It's a bit like a three dimensional jigsaw without a picture. You have all these stones - most of them irregular - and you have to fit them all together with the minimum amount of gaps, keeping the flattest side out and making sure none of it collapses.

And did I mention the bottomless mud?

Back to the fontaine, you can see the dam in the top right of the picture. I'm not sure if it's blocking the source of the fontaine or splitting the area into two - drinking water at the top, washing water at the bottom.

Here's another view from a different angle.

You can see the opening in the bottom wall where the stones have been shoved aside to drain the pool. Our next job is to dig out the mud in the area above the dam then close off the bottom wall. Then we'll tidy up, do a bit of landscaping, cut back some of the overhanging branches, and grass over the banks.