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RE: [MedievalSawdust] Medieval wooden architecture

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  • Bobby Bourgoin (Robert du Bourg)
    Greetings I would like to thank all those how responded the info given was very helpful. Thank you all once again… Seigneur Robert du Bourg Menuisier /
    Message 1 of 13 , Dec 5, 2010


      I would like to thank all those how responded the info given was very helpful.

      Thank you all once again…

      Seigneur Robert du Bourg

      Menuisier / Ébéniste


      Bobby Bourgoin


      If I sing a song, will you sing along, or should I just keep singing right here by myself?

      If I tell you I’m strong, will you play along, or will you see I’m as insecure as anybody else?

      If I follow along, does it mean I belong, or will I keep on feeling different from everybody else?

                                                                              Sing Along – Blue Man Group



      From: medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com [mailto: medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com ] On Behalf Of conradh@...
      Sent: 3 décembre 2010 15:52
      To: medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: RE: [MedievalSawdust] Medieval wooden architecture



      On Fri, December 3, 2010 7:31 am, Bobby Bourgoin (Robert du Bourg) wrote:

      > Greetings, thanks
      > I’m not that picky on when/where as long as it’s medieval. My
      > character is (supposedly) France
      13th, but I prefer the look of Norse
      > (Viking)
      > inspired woodwork.
      The oldest surviving Norse wooden buildings are AFAIK the Norwegian stave
      churches--"stavkirke" I believe is the Norwegian spelling. Googling those
      keywords should give you some ideas. The eastern half of the Viking
      expansion, mostly Swedes going into Russia , learned about log cabins from
      the Russians, and they became popular in well-forested parts of
      Scandinavia . (Log cabins didn't show up in North America until the Swedes
      built a colony on the Delaware River in the 1600's!)

      A distinctively West Norse structure is the turf-covered A-frame. It has
      ends made of timber with board siding, and steeply slanted sideframes that
      support strips of living sod. (It was not unknown for goats to climb the
      roof to graze!) Just like Swiss A-frames, they are a response to
      shortages of building and fuel wood in a cold climate. The ground floor
      was often a barn, and the livestock's body heat was concentrated in the
      narrower top floor to keep the people warm.

      Running siding boards vertically in any kind of damp climate turns out to
      be a Really Bad Idea, though all kinds of people keep forgetting the
      lesson and having to relearn it. Unless you have a taller foundation than
      most people bother to build, rain-splash, piss from passing dogs, etc.
      will rot the wood near the ground. When repair time comes, you can be
      looking at two rotten bottom boards all the way round, or _all_ the siding
      boards being rotten at one end!

      Stud walls with board siding (what Americans think of as "traditional
      house carpentry") used to be called "balloon" construction. It was
      invented in the 1830's in upstate New York/Great Lakes area, when the Erie
      Canal touched off a building boom so great that housecarpenters skilled
      enough to build the then-traditional timber frame homes were overwhelmed.
      Balloon frames could be put up in a fraction of the time, by less-skilled
      workers, and could use lumber of much lower quality.

      For much of northern Europe , the "Tudor half-timber" style actually goes
      back much further. It's a way of building without any siding boards at
      all. A frame is built (often on the ground and raised up one wall at a
      time) out of substantial timbers held together by joints, usually secured
      by trenails (wooden pins). The frames included diagonal timbers, which
      made them very strong.

      When the frame was up and the roof on, the walls were made by filling in
      the spaces between the timbers with what amounts to basketry panels--woven
      twigs that are called "lath" in this context. Then plaster was used to
      cover the lath inside and out. Since twigs could be coppiced quickly and
      easily, they were much cheaper than siding boards. Plaster could be made
      out of lime mortar, hair, manure and various other ingredients, and end up
      fairly waterproof, and not difficult to repair in any case.

      Roofs were commonly thatch, which was the cheapest and could last a
      hundred years if carefully made of the right sort of swamp reed.
      Wheat-straw thatch only lasted about ten years, but was used in rural
      areas because it was so available and thatching skills were widespread
      there. Still popular in parts of Europe to this day. (Among other
      advantages, thatch can be laid over rafters that can be just round timbers
      fresh-cut from the woods--they'll season in the thatch and don't need
      fancy processing or joinery.)

      Biggest drawback to thatch roofs is the way they can catch fire in dry
      weather. Combined with very narrow streets, this made early medieval
      cities into hideous firetraps where a single fire could take out a large
      fraction of the whole town. From the 1200's on, we have actual laws
      (building codes!) forbidding thatch on urban roofs. Like so many good
      ideas, those laws were often ignored, people suffering devastating fires
      and then builders rebuilding on the cheap with--more thatch. London had
      no-thatch laws on the books for _four hundred years_, ISTR, before the
      aptly named Great Fire finally let to enforcement.

      Shake (wooden shingle) roofs have some of the same risks. They never
      caught on much in England , but were very widely used in Germany and
      Scandinavia . They are typically laid on a latticework of wooden strips
      (called battens) that are held up by heavier framing.

      Tiles were the common period answer to making a lasting fireproof roof.
      They can last pretty well forever, barring earthquakes or the house
      burning out from under them and dropping them to shatter in the coals.
      " Tyler " is still a common English name, originally the makers of this sort
      of roof.

      Metal roofs were the ultimate lasting roof, usually lead sheets but
      occasionally copper. They were so expensive that they rarely show up on
      buildings other than churches, palaces and homes of the very wealthy.
      (Incidentally, the Romans used lead ("plumbum" in Latin) for water pipes,
      which is why people who install pipes are called "plumbers" to this day,
      even when their pipes are made of copper and steel and plastic. But in
      the Middle Ages, the name still meant "worker in lead". Piped water was
      very unusual in medieval times, but when the bishop wanted a roof on the
      new wing of the cathedral, he hired plumbers!)

      As has already been suggested, a lot depends on where and when.


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