Weathered oak rests on a slim line of brick, in turn supported by a stone patchwork of chalk white and flint grey. The traditional architecture of any region reflects the materials that are the bones of the local landscape. I grew up in chalk country so, even though I’ve not visited this part of Normandy before, these walls feel familiar.
Chalk (a form of porous limestone) is easily worked but too soft to be a serious building stone. In contrast flint (found in irregular nodules within the chalk) is hard and glassy. With skill and experience the flint can be knapped to produce the sharp flakes prized by prehistoric tool makers or to make regular, small building blocks. Fortunately for would be house builders, chalk and flint are found in association with clay beds (good for bricks and tiles) which support strong-growing oak trees (for long lasting timber frames). Add some human ingenuity and you have all the elements of a durable and adaptable vernacular architecture.
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