OT. Daft question - ground level.

Waiting for SWMBO in a Rochester car park, admiring the medieval city walls.
Just above present ground level you could see the tops of some windows or maybe arrow slits - so the original 'ground' level when they were built must have been at least 6' lower.
How does this happen? What causes 'ground' level to rise over the centuries?
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Dave - The Medway Handyman www.medwayhandyman.co.uk

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Well it depends where it is and what sort of ground we are talking about. The continuous growth of plants, grass etc, lays down layers of last years growth and gradually it will raise the level of the soil itself. Of course other factors are in play, sinkage of foundations, errosion and redistribution of soil and rock over time, then there is us of course in more recent times moving earth about to create flat areas to build on and I'm sure many more reasons can be found if you think about it.
Brian
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On 18/11/2012 12:05, The Medway Handyman wrote:

Erosion, followed by precipitation of what has been eroded.
Colin Bignell
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On 18/11/12 12:05, The Medway Handyman wrote:

Global warming. The ground expands you see..:-)
Actually you would be surprised at how fast soil builds up due to leaf fall and other rotting vegetation.
And castles typically were build with ditches and moats outside, and those fill up even quicker.

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The Natural Philosopher wrote:

I have an area that had a stone surface. The stone was, is, a foot deep. That was twenty years ago. The area is under trees. The stone has completely disappeared and the area is now grass. There has been no intervention except grazing.
Bill
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The lawns around my old office in Edinburgh, laid in 1939, were edged in granite - which is now a full 6" below the level of the grass - the soil has risen that much in 73 years.
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Worm crap?
Actually the soil level round my farmhouse was above the slate damp course due to generations of farmer's wives tipping kitchen range clinker to create a dry path!
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Tim Lamb

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On Sun, 18 Nov 2012 12:05:42 +0000, The Medway Handyman

The same question occurs to me while watching 'Time Team'. Sometimes the 'finds' are not far below the surface, while at other times they are several feet down, with no obvious sign of a river in the vicinity that might be responsible by depositing sediment.
When I dug a hole for our pond a few years ago, I came across a 'Fine Fare' bread wrapper about 18 inches down, but in that case I think the soil had been deliberately imported to raise the level.
--

Chris

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Or some careless time-travelling picnicker was there.
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On Sun, 18 Nov 2012 12:05:42 +0000, The Medway Handyman

Waste and blown-in /carried-in dirt.
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On 18/11/2012 16:43, Grimly Curmudgeon wrote:

And in urban areas, adding more hard material to road surfaces than erodes away. The road outside my house is six inches above the path and 1780's front door. Over in the next town it's a couple of feet above the doorstep of the oldest building which ISTR dates from 14th Century.
In churchyards, one side is usually higher than the other because there's supposed to be a better side to be buried (relating to day of judgement?)
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snipped-for-privacy@fairadsl.co.uk says...

A lot of old churches seem to be considerably below the current ground level of the surrounding churchyard.
The ground level is supposed to have risen due the the mass (or perhaps volume) of bodies & coffins which have been buried there over several centuries.
I'm not entirely convinced, I suspect that a heavy stone building without much in the way of foundations has sunk down a bit.
--
Sam

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On 18/11/2012 18:22, Sam Plusnet wrote:

I was in a churchyard today where some kind of outbuilding just had its roof above ground level. The gravestones were at ground level so I guess the remains are now 12 feet under rather than 6.
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On 18/11/2012 18:22, Sam Plusnet wrote: ...

Large stone buildings that do sink don't normally sink evenly, so you get leaning towers and bits falling off when they do.
Colin Bignell
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On 19/11/2012 01:20, Nightjar wrote:

A classic example of such sinking is Winchester Cathedral. It was built on a 'footings' of large tree trunks across the wall. Underneath was (typically) 14 or 15 feet of marsh/mud, then a very firm gravel bed.
Over the centuries the wood deteriorated, the walls moved, many columns had great splits in them and the whole building nearly fell down. As Colin wrote, it was a bit haphazard. And I suspect that some of the buttresses by then were contributing to the problem - being added over the years, they were differently built and would sometimes have been tending to push parts of the walls down.
The diver William Walker spent years going under the building and placing concrete bags and blocks resulting in firm foundations.
And to further endorse Colin, the whole building did not sink six feet (or whatever) - it varied from one side to the other, one end to the other and within even small areas. In fact, as the ground around is almost level with the floor, it might not have sunk very much as a whole considering how heavy the walls, how long it has been there, and how unsuitable what it is built on.
--
Rod

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On 19/11/2012 09:12, polygonum wrote:

Winchester was one of the cases I had in mind when making my comments. Beauvais Cathedral currently has temporary timber supports to hold it up, while they try to decide how to deal with problems it has. There is also a quite well known leaning tower in Pisa and several less well known ones in Venice.
Colin Bignell
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On 19/11/2012 17:40, Nightjar wrote:

Went to a splendid talk about "fasteners" by a man from GKN in the early 70's. He described a job where he had been asked to specify fasteners that were
stainless...........................yes, can do that could take "x" tons.................yes can do that can pass through a 2 inch hole......yes can do that
and need to be 60 feet long.
These were the bolts to go across the tower at York Minster, made out of standard lengths of 1 inch stainless studding, about 20 feet long, coupled together with threaded sleeves.
That was another one where the four "corners" were sinking at different rates as the wooden Saxon foundations decayed.
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The story I heard was that Winchester College, when building New Hall down by the water meadows, pumped out the water lowering the water table thereabouts, and that greatly accelerated the decay of the timbers under the Cathedral, thus creating a crisis.
Never been able to verify it though ...
IIRC, there's a plaque to the diver in the nave. We're talking here about painstakingly groping around in little or no light, gloved, suited, booted, and helmeted in the old-fashioned way, not 'skin' with aqualungs a la moderne, in case anyone hadn't realised. It truly was an astonishing contribution for a single individual.
wrote:

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On 22/11/2012 02:46, Java Jive wrote:

I vaguely remember some similar story re New Hall but have no idea if it has any truth to it.
There is a full over-lifesize bust of William Walker (the diver) - not much good at describing where but not inside the cathedral itself!
http://www.organ.dnet.co.uk/usoc/winchestertrip/pages/Statue%20of%20William%20Walker,%20diver,%20at%20Winchester%20Cathedral.html
Lived with the clay version of that for years and years... Sculpted by my step-father.
I think this might be (as it claims) a real photo of the full kit:
http://thescuttlefish.com/tag/william-walker-deep-sea-diver /
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Rod

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wrote:

I notice the diver didn't live a very long life and not long after he finished the cathedral job. Must have knocked lumps out of him.
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