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1: Signs of tar-burning in the landscape
2: Building the pit
3: Tar-burning
4: Obtaining tar-rich wood
5: Draining off the tar
6: Rowing the tar
7: Barrel making
8: Making a Tar Boat

Tar-burning

The pit was set alight from its base using tar-rich wood shavings. After a few moments the flickering flames were covered in peat. The mound burned unevenly during windy weather, with down-wind parts not burning at all. The pit-master controlled the burning process with soil and peat so it reached the heart of the pit. Where the fire threatened to go out, air holes were made. If burning was too quick, the peat cover was sealed with soil. Helpers at the pit followed the pit-master’s orders. They had to prevent the mound from bulging due to the pressure of smoke at the outset of burning and also from burning unevenly. An unskilful pit-master’s mound moaned and growled and sometimes even blew its cover of peat into the forest!