Roundhouse (dwelling)

Roundhouse (dwelling)

The roundhouse is a type of house with a circular plan, built in western Europe before the Roman occupation. The wall was made either of stone or of wooden posts joined by wattle-and-daub panels, and the roof was conical and thatched.

Experimental archaeology

Most of what is assumed about these structures is derived from the layout of the post-holes, although a few timbers have been found preserved in bogs. The rest has been filled in by experimental archaeology, which has shown the most likely form and function of the buildings. For example, experiments have shown that a conical roof with a pitch of about 45 degrees would have been the strongest design.

Peter J Reynolds also demonstrated that, although a 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. [Citation | last = Aston | first = Mick | author-link = Mick_Aston
title = Peter Reynolds: Archaeologist who showed us what the Iron Age was really like (obituary)
newspaper = The Guardian | year = 2001 | date = 2001-10-05
url =,,563844,00.html

Modern simulations

Many modern simulations of roundhouses have been built, for example at:

* Butser Ancient Farm, Hampshire, England
* Bodrifty Iron Age Settlement, Cornwall, England
* Brigantium Archeaological Centre, Rochester, Northumberland
* Castell Henllys, Pembrokeshire, Wales
* Flag Fen near Peterborough, England
* Mellor roundhouse reconstruction, Greater Manchester, England
* Peat Moors Visitors Centre, Somerset, England
* St Fagans National History Museum, South Glamorgan, Wales
* Tatton Iron Age roundhouse and pit, Cheshire, England
* Scottish Crannog Centre, roundhouse reconstruction on a man made island, Loch Tay, Perthshire, Scotland

Post-Roman roundhouses

The palloza of the Ancares mountains in Galicia, Spain is similar but with stone walls. These buildings are described as "pre-Roman" but were used in remote areas until the second half of the 20th Century. In northern Scotland, an architectural family built roundhouses of stone known as Atlantic Roundhouses.


ee also

* Rondavel
* Atlantic roundhouse
* Wheelhouse

External links

* [] An animated graphical representation of how a roundhouse is built.

* [] Ghey, E., Edwards, N., Johnston, R. and Pope, R. 2007 Characterising the Welsh Roundhouse: chronology, inhabitation and landscape "Internet Archaeology" 23.

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