Houses Building Development Through Ages in England

Celtic Round Houses

 The Celtic tribes lived in scattered villages in round houses with thatched roofs of straw or heather and walls made from local material. Their houses in the south tended to be made from wattle (woven wood) and daub (straw and mud) as there was an ample supply of wood from the forests.

Houses Building Development Through Ages in England

The houses had no windows. The roof was made with mud on top to keep the warmth in. The houses in the north were made with large stones held together with clay.

Houses Building Development Through Ages in England

The Celts would light a fire in the middle of the roundhouse for cooking and heating. The smoke from the fire escaped through a hole in the roof. Animals were often kept inside the house at night. A wattle wall confined the animals to one area.

Celtic Hill Forts

Sometimes groups of houses were built on the top of hills. These are called hill- forts. The largest and most complex Iron Age hill fort in Britain today is Maiden Castle in Dorset.

Houses Building Development Through Ages in England

The vast multiple ramparts enclose an area the size of 50 football pitches!

As well as small communities, there were also large settlements and heavily defended forts. Colchester was one such large Celtic settlement.

The British Celts

 Celts in Britain today

There are still quite a lot of Celts living in the British Isles today. They live mainly in Wales, Cornwall, Scotland, the Isle of Man and Ireland.

The Celts living in Britain today stem from the two main types of Celt who invaded Britain:

• the Goidelic Celts (Gaels or Gaelic ) - Scotland, Isle of Man and Ireland

• the Brythonic Celts (Britons or British) - roughly Wales and Cornwall

The Goidelic Celts were first to invade Britain. They were later defeated.

By the time Julius Caesar was ready to launch his Roman invasion of Britain, more Celts had crossed over from Gaul and had settled in the southeast of England. These were largely the Belgic tribes, from what is now southern Belgium and northern France, and they were related to the Britons already here.

Roman Houses and Villas

 There was a significant difference between the south- eastern half of Britannia (the Roman name for Britain) and the north- western region. In the southeast Roman style, country homes known as villas were established. In the north and west of Britain, few villas have been found.

Houses Building Development Through Ages in England

Not all Romans lived in villas. The majority of people living in the country lived in houses in the style of the Celtic houses. These houses were usually round and made of timber and thatched.

Only one percent of people in Roman Britain lived in villas.

A lot of building material has survived from the Roman period, but mainly for buildings constructed of stone and tile. There is little evidence of wattle and daub buildings, which are thought to have been used throughout the Roman period.

Roman houses, especially ones belonging to rich people, were so well built that the remains of villas and even towns have been found.

We can tell from these findings that:

• the Romans were good builders

• most people of Roman Britain lived in the countryside

• rich Romans living in the country lived in villas and everyone else lived in huts.


Using the evidence found, artists make drawings of what Roman houses may have looked like. Our understanding of what their houses were like change each year as more evidence is uncovered.

The Roman Villa at Lullingstone was drawn or painted at different times but show what the villa may have looked like around AD 360. Each one is slightly different, reflecting the changing information and opinions about how the site may have looked.

The view is from above, as a bird might see it. The walls are not plastered and there is a courtyard next to the central rooms. The second painting does not have a front entrance up a ramp or steps as the other two have.

None of these illustrations is 'right' - each is a separate attempt at picturing the past.

Houses Building Development Through Ages in England

Reconstruction by Alan Sorrell (1961)

Houses Building Development Through Ages in England

Reconstruction byGraham Sumner (1991)

Houses Building Development Through Ages in England

Reconstruction by Peter Dunn (2000)

Saxon Villages l Saxon Houses   

The Anglo- Saxons did not understand the Roman ways and would not live in their towns, so the villas, streets, and baths were soon forgotten. They fell into ruins and became covered over with weeds. Roman houses were made of brick or stone and had a tiled roof. They even had glass in their windows and underfloor heating.

Angl- Saxon Houses:

We know what Saxons houses may have looked like from excavations of Anglo- Saxon villages, such as the one at West Stow in the east of England.

Using clues from the what was discovered, archaeologists have reconstructed the houses as they may have looked about 1,500 years ago.

We know that the Saxons built mainly in wood, although some of their stone churches remain.

Anglo- Saxons houses were huts with roofs thatched with straw.

Much of Britain was covered with forests. The Saxons had plenty of wood to use.

There was only one room where everybody ate, cooked and slept.

The houses were built facing the sun to get as much heat and light as possible.

Houses Building Development Through Ages in England

The Hall

The biggest house in an Anglo- Saxon village was the Hall, the Chief's house. He lived there with his warriors.

The Hall was long, wide and smoky, with the fire on a stone in the middle. The smoke from the fire escaped through a hole in the roof.

The windows were slits called eye- holes. There was no glass in the windows.

Houses Building Development Through Ages in England

On the walls were shields and antlers. The floor was dirty and covered with rushes from the river banks. Sometimes the oxen were kept at one end of the Hall.

The Vikings

 Introduction to the Vikings in Britain:

The Viking Age in Britain began about 1,200 years ago in the 9th Century AD and lasted for just over 200 years.

You might have heard that name in some of Disney cartoons such as"How to Train Your Dragon", or" Brave".

About the year 800, bands of fierce raiders began to attack our coasts. They were the Vikings (also called the Danes although they didn't just come from Denmark. See below).

The Vikings came across the North Sea, just as the Anglo- Saxons had done 400 years earlier. In time, like the Anglo- Saxons, the Vikings made their home here. They drove the Saxons out of part of the country and took it for themselves.

King Alfred, Saxon king of Wessex, fought them in a great battle, but he could not drive them right away and had to let them have part of the country, called Danelaw.

Viking Houses:

 The Vikings built their houses from local material such as wood, stone or blocks of turf. They lived in long rectangular houses made with upright timbers (wood).

Houses Building Development Through Ages in England

The walls were made of wattle (woven sticks, covered with mud to keep out the wind and rain).

Viking houses were often one- room homes with a cooking fire in the middle. The smoke escaped through a hole in the roof. Animals and people lived in the same building. The animals lived in a byre at one end of the house and the people in the other.

What are Medieval Castles?

Medieval castles are castles built from the time of the Norman Conquest, which began in 1066, to the start of the Tudor period in 1485.

Houses Building Development Through Ages in England

The Tudors

Characteristics of Tudor houses

Tudor houses are made from a wooden framework of beams which are uneven because they were cut by hand rather than by machine.

Houses Building Development Through Ages in England

Some houses built today to try and copy the Tudor style. Look carefully at the beams. You will be able to tell if they have been made by hand or by machine. Beams made by machines have a straight cut.

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