North Duffield Conservation and Local History Society
Roundhouses have been built in Britain since at least the Bronze Age, approximately 4,000 years ago. They continued to be built until the Roman Invasion and perhaps for a short time afterwards during the later Iron Age (100AD). Whilst no complete roundhouse has ever been found, dwellings of a round plan with distinctive post holes and a central hearth have been found all over Western Europe and particularly in low-
The roundhouse used walls often made of wattle-
Most of what is assumed about these structures is derived from the layout of the post-
Although a central fire would have been lit inside for heating and cooking, there could not have been a smoke hole in the apex of the roof, for this would have caused an updraft that would have rapidly set fire to the thatch. Instead, smoke would have accumulated harmlessly inside the roof space, and slowly leaked out through the thatch.
A roundhouse appears to have been the typical 'des res' of a family group, where everyone slept under the same roof in one large space, perhaps on layers of straw , hides, rushes, reeds and perhaps, again, on a raised platform. Articles of everyday living have been found on roundhouse sites and include, looms, pottery, querns for grinding corn, hide stretchers etc. Smaller roundhouses were used for storing food , animals and tools.
It is most likely that roundhouses, a fairly permanent structure, came into use as man abandoned his hunter-
It also seems likely that these structures were made using whatever locally sourced materials were available and probably a new one built to replace an old one that had become leaky and smelly from constant use.
Most roundhouses were surrounded by a drainage ditch to carry away rainwater from the roof and were situated within a rectangular compound. The doorway, which appears to have been fitted with one of various types of 'porch' normally faces to the East to Southeast to take advantage of the rising sun and so that it was farthest away from the prevailing Westerly winds. It may , of course, be that the rising sun was of religious or symbolic significance to these pre-
To the North East of North Duffield, there are indications of roundhouse bases showing up in the crop marks in the field. Crop marks, visible from aerial photography, are created when structures or features, undetectable on the surface, cause crops to grow at differing heights and thereby showing up as a 3D image. Indeed, doorways facing to the East or South East are clearly visible in the crop marks transitions, together with boundaries and other, as yet, unidentified features.
In 2012, AND conducted an archaeological dig over some of the crop marks and will continue the dig in 2013. For more details see under 'Excavations' in the HLF Menu.
Our Lottery funding includes the re-
To see how we are progressing go to the next level under this Menu to 'The Roundhouse', 'Model Roundhouse' and 'Roundhouse Gallery'