AD650 – Anglo Saxon House

In the agricultural communities of the Dark Ages, people had more opportunity to build permanent homes for them­ selves. Their dwellings were made of whatever materials were to hand. Turf and, in some areas, stone could be used if it was available but in this typical Anglo-Saxon house, sturdy oak timbers have been cut from trees felled in a nearby forest. They support a straw thatch, though reed or sedge was also commonly used for roofing. The windowless walls are of oak planks split and shaped with an axe. The carpentry involved simple but robust joints — mortise and tenon, or half-lap joints that could be drilled and pegged. Each family group in the community might also have had a number of small outhouses that could be used for storage or to keep animals in winter. Inside their main hall, privacy was minimal and smoke from the open hearth escaped through the thatch. When well coated with soot, it was fairly fire-proof. Being built of perishable materials, these buildings would have needed careful maintenance to keep the wind and rain at bay, and to minimise draughts and leaks. Given the proper attention, however, it is likely that such a house could have lasted fifty years or so, which was longer than its occupants might have expected to live.

 

Contents

1200 - Thatched House