Just before the half term, a group of P6 school children from our local Limekilns Primary with their Head Teacher, Anne Marsh spent a day at Charlestown Workshops, learning all about building materials –different types of stone used in buildings and roof coverings like slate and pantile. Then the group were asked to design their own masons’ mark and carve it on a tablet of limestone – masons’ marks are found on many old buildings, and were a way for a mason to record what he had built and get paid for it. The children enjoyed looking at photographs of old Limekilns and Charlestown and seeing how different or similar they are today. The class were particularly ‘wrapped’ by our Building Materials Analyst, Dr Callum Graham’s USB microscope and fascinated by the geology in the local area, especially the fossils that can be found.
The class then participated in some alchemy, watching quicklime (the product that comes out of a lime kiln) slake its thirst for water. The magical reaction produces a huge exothermic reaction (lots of heat) and results in the formation of a bubbling and boiling caustic soup! Allowed to cool, the lime can then be combined with sands, aggregates and earth pigments to make lime mortar for building, plastering, harling and lime wash, just like you would find at Abbot House in Dunfermline.