Iron Age - Danebury Round House CS1


The excavations at Danebury Hillfort, By Proof Barry Cunnliff, over the course of 30 years, have given us a superb insight into iron age housing. The house, designated CS1, is one of five built with oak planking in a slot trench. The evidence in the excavation of CS1 shows the size and thickness of the planks, and in the chalk silt, the grain can be seen and identified as being oak. This is the first attempt to construct this for of iron age house in modern times.

The Evidence

This graphic shows the detail in the excavation, with the evidence for the planking in the lower left quadrant of the slot trench. The doorway is well defined, with a sill plate and two vertical posts that project down through the sill, and into postholes.

Because of it's unusual nature, an artists impression was commissioned to visualize the construct of the building.

The Build

A slot trench is dug as per the excavation report at 7.2m diameter. The planks are stood upright in the trench, and back filled with the spoil.

Each plank has it's edge overlapping with the adjacent planks. The overlap is between 2cm to 5cm, depending on how parallel or straight the edges are.

With the base of the planks secure in the ground, and packed with the spoil, the top of the plank needs to be stabilised. This was achived by drilling a hole through the overlap and inserting a nail. This then clenched (bent over) on the inside of the house. This produces a secure fastening.

Alternatives could be used, other than the nail, i.e. sewing or lashing.

Where the planks butt up to the door frame, they are slotted in the frame, and secured with wooden pegs inserted through drilled holes.
Once are components are erected and secured, this produces a strong cylinder, onto which the roof can be mounted.
The first rafters are erected by constructing a tripod. Slots are cut into the top of the wall, and the rafers are mounted one at a timeinto the slots. The joint used in that slot transfers the weight of the roof into the wall.
All rafters mounted, with some on a small ring beam to avoid a tangle at the apex of the roof.
The roof was then thatched with straw to give a waterproof roof.
The house complete with doors, is ready to be moved into!
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