RE: [MedievalSawdust] Medieval wooden architecture
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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto: email@example.com ] On Behalf Of conradh@...
Sent: 3 décembre 2010 15:52
Subject: RE: [MedievalSawdust] Medieval wooden architecture
On Fri, December 3, 2010 7:31 am, Bobby Bourgoin (Robert du Bourg) wrote:
> Greetings, thanksSCA
> I’m not that picky on when/where as long as it’s medieval. My
> character is (supposedly) France13th, but I prefer the look of Norse
> (Viking)The oldest surviving Norse wooden buildings are AFAIK the Norwegian stave
> inspired woodwork.
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
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.