Iron Age - Danebury Round House CS14


Except for the five houses that are plank built, all the rest excavated at Danebury Hillfort are stake built. That is, the uprights in the wall are of small diameter, not heavy posts. This is echoed on a great many late iron age sites, indicating that the local woodlands were heavily managed, and in particular, coppiced. This house is the last in this series of iron age houses that the author built, strictly based on the archaeology. All the information gleaned over the years has been focused on this one house.


CS14 is one of the best preserved houses at Danebury. At 7.3m diameter, it is well within the average size for late iron age. It shows fireplace, ovens, and doorway. The stake holes are only 120mm apart, with stakes at 30-60mm.

This is a simlification of the ground plan. It must be noted that the pit on the left is not at the same period as the house!
One detail is the doorway. It shows that the door posts are in pairs, with only the inner posts possibly structural.
The start of the build. The door fame is made of oak, held together by mortice and tenon joints. The upright posts extend down through the sill, into the ground. This makes the door unmovable, and can withstand the pressure of the wall as it is created.
The wall stakes are inserted into the ground, having punched holes using a spike and mallet, as per the archaeology. There are 3x2m sections of wall stakes that are in oak base plates, instead of the ground. This was an experiment that points to a house being built with no evidence of posts or stakes.
Because the spacing of the wall stakes is so tight, it was discovered that hazel rods would not work as wattle. As we have no evidence for split hazel, the only material that worked was willow. It took 1,200 rods to complete the wall to 2m high.
Wall complete, and rafters raised. The rafters have a notch cut on the under surface, that sits on top of the wall. It is then lashed into place. The rafters overhang by 1m to give protection to the walls. This overhang also minimises water creep through the soil, back to the wall.
A close up of the purlins. A notch is cut on the upper surface of the rafter. This locks the purlin into position before lashing.
The house was thatched with straw, and the walls daubed.
The finished house. The red paint is iron oxide. The evidence for the paint is in the Danebury excavation, where a section of daub survives, with the paint intact on the surface.
The interior decorated, and ready for use. The 2m high walls give ample living space, with the full diameter of the house usable. Walls are lime washed. The floor is pounded chalk, producing a sweepable surface. The raised fireplace and the oven have been installed. The door width allows good illumination of the interior.
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