Stones discovered in the Yorkshire Dales in 1896, and originally thought to be part of a corn drying kiln, have been reuncovered, prompting investigators to hypothesize that they were actually part of a communal bread oven.
Dr Johnson said a circle of stones on the site was definitely either a hearth or the base of an oven because the stones had been subjected to temperatures high enough to split most of them in two.
A flue ran under the hearth and under the floor of the building, distributing hot air from there to the rest of the structure.
“What is not obvious is what it had been used for,” he said.
“Corn drying seems out of the question, though, because that process needed low temperatures and gentle heat and the fire was always kept away from the drying floor.
“The team is now currently toying with the idea that it might have been a communal bread oven. Hartlington was part of the ancient parish of Burnsall and it is known that there was such an oven within the parish, but nobody knows where it was.