Just outside our village is an acre of pine forest that's just come up for sale so we went for a wander round it to see if it was worth putting an offer on it. And we found these...
Apparently they were used for making charcoal and would be dug just outside the villages but within easy reach of an olive press and the olive waste would be used to cover the fires instead of the soil used in other places - soil is in pretty short supply around here! The top of the pit is lined with stone, but the lower parts seem to have been carved out of solid rock, which I guess is about the safest way to have a fire around here. Someone told me the name of the tree they used to use, but it wasn't anything I recognised and, being me, I've promptly forgotten the name, but the bit of land is named Sobreirao, after the cork oaks that grow nearby. But I would have thought that cork oaks are too valuable to use for charcoal, so maybe the name has no relevance to the pits.
If our offer is accepted, I intend to experiment with these pits. Does anyone know if pine makes good charcoal?
Wow, those pits are amazing, what a neat thing to find! Folks in my region used to make charcoal from the native juniper, which is called "cedar." So I'm guessing you can use pine. Not sure of its quality, though.....
Here in Scandinavia we used to make wood tar from pine trees ore the bark from birch.
We used the root and parts of the stem who was damaged because they are loaded with resin in pine trees.
One of the byproducts from making wood tar is charcoal.
If they are tar pits I think you are lucky, maybe you should contact some local museum to determine if it is tar kilns.
Wikipedia link for tar kilns:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tar
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