Do it yourself – Iron age style

We like to think of ourselves as pretty handy as human beings go. We live in nice warm houses, if we’re lucky, and we’ve come to expect a certain standard in those houses. Brick and concrete walls, for example, and cement between them to keep it all in place. Windows too we consider to be able to look out off at the outside world and running water pumped directly into the home on tap, literally. What if this wasn’t the case? What would you have to do if you were one of our Iron age ancestors. What do you use then?

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Easy answer to that first point. You use wood and lots of it. It’s customary for us to think of our ancestors as being what we’d call “eco”. Maybe they were as they never took more than they needed but when it came to trees they were felling them like nobody’s business. They needed them for protection in palisade walls, firewood and for spear shafts for hunting. They needed them for roundhouses. Everything had to be done by hand and with stone, bronze or Iron tools. Its not like they could use an Online DIY Store for all the stuff they required. Rest assured if they had been around you’d have been able to order them from

They would sink in support poles, charred at the sink in ends to keep the rot at bay, and weave in wattling wood such as Hazel as its bendy. Then the fun part would begin. You may have heard of wattle and daub. It’s been around for millennia to construct a house. The daub is plastered around and on the wattle. Its an interesting mix of mud, clay and cow poo made into a thick paste by adding water and straw. Yes, there will be some interesting smells in your house for a while. The is true as you’ll have to spread it on very thick. You maybe wondering what happens if it rains? Not to worry, if you add some sand that will cover it. Right well that’s the first 3 days done, better see about getting a roof on the thing.

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Our old friend Hazel comes back to be used as a binding for the hundreds and thousands of reeds that you’re to going to need to make up the thatched roof. This is actually a very effective way of keeping the rain out and is still used today. You’ll have a nice rigid cone shaped structure positioned on the wattle wall and a nice but of ripe daub to stick the whole thing together. You could have used drystone walling by the way but who wants to lug all those rocks about? Ok so the long thin bundles of thatched reed are on and you’ve left a gap for the smoke to escape, let’s get the left-over Hazel on fire as we’ll need the smoke to water proof the inside. Let’s have a brew? You can’t as tea and coffee won’t be introduced for another 1700 years give or take. Enjoy your new home!

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