The brief: to involve local people to create something useful and relevant for this historically important landscape. The raw material for the project, several largish sitka spruce, did not have to travel very far, about 100m actually, wasn't as a species ideal as it's not very durable. However, as it was probably less than 12 months since I'd returned from building our own Norwegian stavlaft cabin using spruce, there was quite a lot of empathy with the size, form and character of the logs provided.
I had seen a few pictures of the trees after they had been felled, but apart from that, I was as new to the raw material and the project as the six students who turned up on day 1. My only advantage was that I'd had a little time to consider a few design ideas in advance of the project starting.
Background to the site explained and the project introduced, we embarked on a quick ideas session, my role was largly to temper ideas bearing in mind practical considerations and the range of tools and equipment available in the trailer.
The bench design chosen was essentially very simple indeed with more than a hint of timber framing technique involved, two enormous mortise and tenon joints holding the three timbers together with oak pegs. The two end posts were given two castellated towers to reflect something of the roman fort as depicted by an artists impression of the site we'd been shown.
All in all a really enjoyable and satisfying project working with a great group of people on the Northumberland Cumbria border.
If you are ever walking the Pennine Way near Alston enjoy a short rest on our bench and take in the history of this astonishingly beautiful and wild landscape.