Pithouse

Bark-Stripping Methods

Once a tree had been selected, the side of the tree with the fewest branches was determined, as it would provide the longest single strips in one pull. To initiate the strip, side cuts were made just above the flare at the base of the tree-these side cuts were usually two fingers in width. The bark above the cut was pried away from the tree to begin the bark pull. Once enough bark was freed from the tree so that it could be pulled without tools, the bark stripper grasped the bark and slowly walked backwards from the tree, pulling the strip up the tree in the process. If the strip did not go far enough up the tree to provide a satisfactory length, a new tree was tried.

Often, if the bark strip was quite far up the tree, the bark stripper would need assistance, as the angle on the bark being pulled away from the tree might be too sharp. To overcome this problem, a rope could be attached to the strip to allow the bark stripper the opportunity to move further away from the tree-thus getting a better angle to pull a longer strip. When the strip had reached a suitable length, the bark could be twisted a half turn and pulled hard to snap the bark strip from the tree. The bark strip left a yellow scar in the tree-revealing the sapwood beneath (archaeologists refer to these scars when assessing what they term 'culturally modified trees '). The bark was then rolled up for transport.

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