The Lawshall Caches

How and where was the Lawshall cache discovered?

Left: Location of the second Lawshall cache found in 2001 down the side of a brick chimney stack. Image © Copyright 2001 Paula and Barry Harber

Paula and Barry Harber have found two groups of objects concealed in their home in Lawshall, Suffolk. Their house dates from the early 16th century. The Harbers are timber-framed building enthusiasts and founded the Suffolk Timber-Framed House Group in 1997. The first group of objects, found in 2000, consisted of nails, knives, blades, the corner of a book cover, a dressmaking pin and a shoe blackie. They were found underneath a mullion window at the east end of the building. Paula believes the cache may have been placed in this location when the window was inserted in the late 16th century. All of the objects found in this cache were sharp, which may be significant.

The second group of objects was found in 2001. They were located down the side of a brick chimney stack, that was inserted in the late 16th century on the north side of the house. A mullion window was blocked up when the chimney was installed. To Paula the objects appeared to have been dropped in a small gap next to the chimney, from the upper floor. This cache comprised a pewter button, several pieces of material with hand stitching, a leather shoe, a row of buttons on a coat edge, a wooden patten, and a moulded piece of oak timber beading.

Left: Fragments of textiles found in the Lawshall cache. CG12.a. Image © Copyright 2001 Paula and Barry Harber

How did the concealed objects come to be discovered?

The Harbers’ enthusiasm for timber framed buildings had lead them to read about the practice of concealing objects to protect buildings from evil spirits. Paula had an intuition that their house may contain objects concealed for this reason because of its age. Therefore when she noticed a gap below a mullion window, between the sill and the wall-plate, she was wanted to see what might be in there. The first cache was discovered when she pushed her fingers between the gap.

The second group of objects were discovered when Paula decided to clean out the dust and dirt trapped down the side of the chimney stack. Over a three-hour period she discovered the group of garment related objects.

Where is the cache kept now?

The cache has been kept safely at the Harbers’ home in a box. They plan to display the objects close to the area in which they were found. They have not returned them to where they were found because the area is damp and the caches would deteriorate. The Harbers run public courses on care and repair of timber-frame buildings from their home and use their cache to show people the types of object they may find. If the house is sold in the future Paula would like the objects to stay with the house rather than go to a museum.

View items found in the Lawshall caches.

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