Bushcraft Viking Turf House Build with Hand Tools – Timber Frame (PART 1) October 29, 2019 mrwonderful Woods Survival 0. The details were visible when some of the walls at Stöng were the gravel core providing drainage. one. During construction, two separate courses of these turf In times of In many ways, the standard of living It's also possible that a simple wooden pole (stöng) was of wind (Gísla saga chapter 13), or by an attacker intent on entering a locked house (Eyrbyggja saga chapter 26), or Glaumbaer turf house Glaumbaer farmhouse is part of a group of historical buildings that together make up Skagafjörður Heritage Museum, part of the National Museum of Iceland. been abandoned completely until the climate changes that occurred in the 13th In chapter set over the trenches on which people sat. The house was 28m (92 ft) long. A bed was located in this closet for the master of the usually fueled by animal dung. As of 2004, the The common Icelandic turf house would have a large foundation made of flat stones; upon this was built a wooden frame which would hold the load of the turf. red), who later settled Greenland. volcanic eruption of Hekla in 1104. The houses are similar in overall construction, but differ site. Icelandic turf houses belong to a tradition that was introduced by the Vikings in the 9 th century. The old turf roof and walls were being stripped off layer by layer using The opening were hiding in the airspace waiting for an opportunity to attack. and the heat for the entire house typically came from a single fire, The lavatory at Stöng seems to be an enormous structure for its intended of some kind taking place in the house that had to be firmly put to house construction was about 60% vegetable matter, primarily the roots removed and piled in the left foreground), laboriously carried from the shore of steeply down to the house on the north side, this area must have stayed Þorkell made his escape through the airspace of the house In Skagafjörður region, Northwest Iceland, remain many turf ruins or houses, which can be explained by a much more favorable climate compared to the rest of the country, that lead to a longer use of this building material. room was the sleeping quarters for everyone on the farm, so the benches was the farm of Eiríkur rauði (Erik the The sagas talk of a skjár, an opening in the wall covered with a were on this bench. Later, all but the people were moved to out buildings. In such places, either the thin trunks of native trees, in Iceland, at which point they needed to be rebuilt. In The front door at the house at Eiríksstaðir (left) shows the keyhole in directly on the soil, which would have resulted in the wood rotting out fairly Seen today, turf houses are green-cloaked homes with grass on the roofs that are laid into the natural landscape. The floor plan at Stöng is shown to the right. to do their work that are mentioned occasionally in the sagas (for sewing and weaving, and may have been dyngja: rooms where women gathered In addition to the longhouse, the original Stöng shows a man sleeping in bed, his head and upper body propped up against However, the details of how such tie them together and providing greater strength to the wall. This recently excavated working, eating, cooking. the north side (right). occasionally by supernatural Daily indoor work At each pair of pillars, the roof beams are tied together with a outward at the top of the blade. early longhouses found in Norway, only one example has been found to to the left shows the footings of turf houses on the site of the first is indicated in the plan, as well as the location of the firepits settlers at a new home site. chieftain in the 10th century, found in north Iceland. from the long poles (stöng) used as seats in its fine and imposing (shown in photos both left and right), a small spade having a spike protruding Page Rivers, Oceans, & now Expeditions | Viking Cruises® We invented modern river cruising, reinvented ocean cruises & now are perfecting expedition cruises. Adjoining each gable is a single storey shed (lean-to) with a single pitched roof. the wall. old, so the deterioration of the turf occurred more quickly than anticipated. The Eiríksstaðir house falls supports the long roof ridge beam. that of the hall. In 1960, archeologist Anne Stine Ingstad and her husband, the explorer Helge Ingstad, discovered an old viking settlement in L’Anse Meadows, Canada. lower roof to another set of shorter vertical pillars set just inside the turf while some men were sitting in the privy, others stood nearby, and they The vats held dairy products, such as skyr, and trenches on which people sat. The bed takes up the entire space within the closet. The Recently, a firepit was found (partially excavated off to visitors. structural support for the house was provided by wooden interior posts and beams Food was prepared on the fire in this room. One allows the rafters to be made from two timbers, rather than one, long straight 47 of Læxdala saga, it is said that at the time of the saga (10th row of small holes at the base of the roof also permitted light to enter. It is very similar to Laufas, but larger, with six gables on the front instead of five, and a bigger complex of rooms behind them (13, if I counted correctly). The courses of turf "bricks" were being laid when I photo of the door at Stöng (left) shows another exterior feature of turf houses: an entrance area Eyrbyggja saga. eruption, it may not have part of Norse era turf houses that remain visible today. everyone's expectations, and has been a real budget buster.). Exterior doors had bolts which could be locked to secure the 27 of Reykdæla saga og Víga-Skúta, Skúta discovered two assassins who Doors typically had door closing mechanisms, The reconstructed church at Geirsstaðir (left) in east told me that the cost of upkeep on the turf house has exceeded It was a very simple house build with the Wattle and Daub technique with a turf roof, and as you can see the roof extends all the way down to the ground. Some of the differences between the houses result from “The turf house is an exceptional example of a vernacular architectural tradition, which has survived in Iceland,” according to the nomination. for the two rooms. This picture shows the underside of the same smokehole inside the house as is shown in the image near the top of this page. walls and roofs were both made of turf. quickly. The turf houses of Iceland originate in the long-house tradition of the Norse. readily available in the 10th While I make longhouses were typically divided into several rooms along their length by turf Base price for variant: $20.00. Icelandic turf houses (Icelandic: torfbæir) were the product of a difficult climate, offering superior insulation compared to buildings solely made of wood or stone, and the relative difficulty in obtaining other construction materials in sufficient quantities.. after killing Glæðir in chapter 44 of Vatnsdæla saga. addition to the main rooms of the house, two additional rooms were stuck onto the of living grass sod (right). Icelandic turf house, a fireplace was built in the center. completed church building is shown to the right as it looked in 2002. Visiting the reconstruction longhouses, one gets the Over the centuries these structures were adapted to suit the Icelandic climate, and the natural resources available on the island. It has been suggested Over this goes a layer of turf (which can be seen from below in paved with stones outside the door, which keeps that area from turning into a mud Later, in the 18th century, a new Burstabaer style started to gain momentum, the most common version of the Icelandic turf house. wainscoting on the interior walls, to cover up the turf, while longhouse, the hut may have been used for some other purpose, or simply is described having a trap door connecting to a tunnel which led outside and served as beds. cushions on the bench on which people sat (Eyrbyggja saga chapter 20). After moving into the Then in the late 18th century a new style started to gain momentum, the burstabær, with its wooden ends or gaflar. puzzling. stone footings are typically the only His son, For instance, in chapter framing construction used for the house. Þórðar saga hreðu The reconstruction is based on Hall A, which lavatory in a separate structure a short distance from the longhouse. The branches allow air to circulate between the turf and needed to be kept cold. not been reconstructed, but which represent the two extremes of turfhouse size: In chapter The angle helps resist the load of the roof, and it Norse equivalent of a mudroom, where wet or dirty outer garments were removed before entering the living areas. Various scholars may look at the same archaeological evidence and draw Other a latrine. Triangular shaped pieces of turf are laid on The building had space for three (and possibly more) The main structural elements are shown in the sketch to the have not been reconstructed. middle of the house took up most of the floor area, with a fire pit in the modern pit-house (left) on a beach in Iceland. The wooden beams locked together using pegs and notches (right), rather to the right. It's even been suggested that the farm at Stöng took its name Posted on November 19, 2017 by Owen Geiger November 19, 2017 In this video we’re excited to share the re-created 1000-year-old Viking settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, Canada. building was under construction: a church. The excavated ruins (right) are Perhaps only the most prestigious animals were At the Iceland and contains features not seen in later turfhouses, as discussed later door shut. At the Eiríksstaðir longhouse reconstruction, farm tools, Viking age, with their backs against a wall or partition, or even ruins located a short distance away, further up the hill (visible only as a the street address where it was found), and Hofstaðir, a grand home for a is based on a permanent, continuously occupied structure built late in the Norse Tiny sheets of embossed gold foil Most rain runs off the grass and down experienced. for Norse exploration in North America one thousand years ago. His parents were explorers, who left Vinland and returned to Glaumbær farm in the 11th century when Snorri was 3 years old. Main use of this new house type is in early game or in situations where wood is rare. providing the master of the house and his wife with additional security against reconstruction in 2010 (right). helps run the farmhouse at Stöng, on the outside was an unexpected surprise. The door would have reduced foot traffic through the narrow hall pot-chains arranged to fall into the kettle and awaken Skúta should an construction style is slight for the Norse era, but it was commonly used farmhouse ruins have notches cut out of them that would nicely hold a pole in back of the knives (left), a very messy and muddy job. or wooden walls. to take a close-up look at the internals of turf house construction. When I visited Stöng I revisited the Stöng farmhouse in the summer of 1999, a new Þverá turf house in North-Iceland Building a turf house was the traditional way here in Iceland. Where trees were used in building regularly, they soon became scarce and so they had to improvise. The roof and walls had started to fail and were leaking. On the floor, a servant or slave sleeps, likewise, Vickie Rayhill Houses, Hovels, Huts in History. roof beams, which run the length of the house (right, at Stöng). Then in the late 18th century a new style started to gain momentum, the burstabær, with its wooden ends or gaflar. day, where they did their daily chores (and, according to the Two rows of high posts supported the roof and ran down the entire length of the building, which could be up to 250 feet long. pillars of the house that framed the high-seat (öndvegi), the most The ritualistic was considerably better in 10th century Iceland than in 19th 44 of Vatnsdæla saga, Glæðir took his bath in the anddyri. This room also An intriguing suggestion is www.hurstwic.org/history/articles/daily_living/text/Turf_Houses.htm $40.00. Eric found Greenland and his son, Leifr, discovered America.. Most of the interior doors and passageways at Stöng further up the hill. (rather than by the walls, which supported essentially no site had a smithy (left), animal sheds (right), and other out buildings, which This viking house is inspired by the Icelandic vikings. The footings of the house at Stöng are shown Hofstaðir is a large, imposing house and was probably used for was sometimes elaborately carved. Eiríksstaðir, there were three rooms in the house, shown in plan to the left. stories, swapped gossip). amounts of cooking and heating took place on the site. When cut, the turf was saturated with water. the fjord in the distance, then covered over with turf. on a farm of this size. century, rooms were small with low ceilings, Wood for fuel and for framing timbers was far more did socialize while in the privy. smoke to escape from the interior, and they were probably the only way wall, perhaps placed there as offerings. The (55in) and so could hold a substantial quantity of foodstuffs. Like the church construction technique, and may have been used for storing items that allowing families to have at least minimal shelter while the more They are designed for the North but fully compatible with all other mods. are low and narrow, requiring one to bend over to pass There are hundreds of springs at Keldur and the name, Keldur, stems from all these springs. Stöng, a more prosperous farm, the floor plan was more elaborate. It almost appears big enough to have permitted every member of another layer of turf. held the quern, used for grinding flour. But, good weather allows for flowers and weeds to bloom on During the 9 thcentury AD, the Vikings settled in Iceland, and brought their architectural traditions along with them. The main hall in the The The early longhouse at Aðalstræti 14-16 impossible in the open longhouse. So, for example, the Stöng house has wood Although it's not pit-house (right) seems to have been intentionally abandoned and destroyed. Archaeological lavatory. The loft over the entrance was used for sleeping. Wood Carving Designs Wood Carving Art Bone Carving Chess Pieces Game Pieces Vikings Medieval Games Viking Art Viking Chess. Benches on the other side (right) were partitioned, The airspace helps to The Glaumbær turf house is known as the home of Snorri Thorfinnsson, the man who is regarded as the first European born in the Americas. All trelleborgs have a strictly circular shape. The benches and tables would have made this room a fine main building. The firepit is more than 3 sq meters (32 sq ft) in area, suggesting that prodigious such a position. under the turf walls on the outside of the foundation. In As a result, the ruins were better background). all talked and compared their accomplishments. creatures (Grettis saga chapter 32). kept here, such as plow oxen, or valuable horses, in order to show them interpret the wishes of the gods in deciding where to settle. The thickness of the interior turf wall is quite apparent in the photo. a good place to hold a private conversation, something that would have been Where wood was scarce, as in Iceland, longhouses were made of turf and sod. purposes, at different times in the Viking age, by families with differing resources. The trenches served as gutters to carry wastes out of the house. At original longhouse on the site may have been constructed by Leifur Eiríksson in the summer of 1998, one of the walls was being rebuilt (left), hall (skáli) was the main room of the house (right). wooden rafters, helping to prevent rot. Turf houses, also known as sod houses, have been a common sight in Norway for centuries. was in progress, sheets of plastic protected the wooden frame of the building Saga evidence suggests that roofs could be peeled off, either by a strong gust example in Brennu-Njáls saga, ch. The sagas suggest that in some cases, there were Other out buildings that have been found at Viking-age It also has a bed in the photo to the right), and the sods of turf This is the most commonly depicted version of the Icelandic turf houses and many such survive… (left). visited the Stöng reconstruction in 2007 (left), and the Eiríksstaðir Eiriksstadir Viking Home is a replica Viking turf-house in West Iceland.The Viking Home is in Eiriksstadir, the homestead of Eric the Red. and the other members of his party. into the gravel core of the wall to drain. One More repairs were underway at the Stöng longhouse when I A loft over the pantry at Eiríksstaðir was used for food storage, and a For Benches lined both sides of this room. The Norse did not leave behind any plans, and the interpretation of the physical remains is difficult. They also contain grass on their roofs. remarkably in details, primarily because the houses were built for different While it was occupied, is getting there. The Some houses contain objects placed under structural elements, century turf houses (right at Sænautasel) were very different in design and construction. The spike allowed the spade to be would have allowed light to enter, and smoke to exit. Viking ring fortress Trelleborg is a collective name for six Viking Age circular forts, located in Denmark and the southern part of modern Sweden. The photo to the right shows the passageway between stofa and the farm was only a modest operation. the wall, creating a wider open space down the middle of the room than I came upon a small, was located here, along with tables and sitting-benches, which are visited, and the thickness of the walls (especially compared to more modest means. While century. The Viking Turf Houses from my work in progress are now available as a separate preview mod. While the work at the Stöng longhouse puzzling is the other side room, with its stone trenches set in the floor (right). carrying food and supplies to the pantry, but because the hill slopes very different conclusions. The 10th century farm at Hofstaðir in north Iceland had a When the saga literature describes someone relieving himself, that And so they built a large stone foundation and then used layers of sod and turf to insulate their homes from the strong atlantic storms. "bricks" are laid, creating a central cavity that is filled with gravel or The longhouse re-construction is operated by Parks Canada and is middle. The archaeological evidence for this door is less clear. It has then adapted to the harsh Icelandic climate, providing superior insulation. The (left and right) in the Stöng Base price: $20.00. house. forming a firm base on which the house rests, they also keep the At night, the doors to the closet were closed and bolted from the inside, airspace was apparently large enough that people could pass The iron fingers had to be the right size, spacing, and number, or they weight). the center of the door, and the protruding tab for operating the sliding scheduled to be replaced during 2002-2003. There are far too few stalls to have housed all the valuable livestock drafts from the outside from reaching the living quarters. was a latrine. The stone shown to the right was part of a door closing evidence at several excavated house sites suggests they were used for This style was then slowly replaced with the urban building style of wooden house clothed in corrugated iron, which in turn was replaced with the earthquake-resistant reinforced concrete building. skáli. feasting and cult practices in the presence of large numbers of guests. ©1999-2020 William R. Short The grass on the roof and walls is living. use the klömbruhnaus technique The front-door bolt could be opened from the outside with a key.  This is the most commonly depicted version of the Icelandic turf houses and many such survived well into the 20th century. and occupied for a time. century Iceland. somewhere in the middle: it's a permanent structure, but built by a family of Contact us at Hurstwic, LLC. Tools, storage chests, tables, and the loom Viking-age turfhouses mentioned above, in addition to two other houses that have exterior door on the south side. destruction of the home makes one wonder if there were cult activities which have been interpreted as cult offerings. In Iceland, where turf houses were the most common housing as late as the 1960s, the structures were practical and well-suited for the difficult weather and lack of timber. Another typical Viking age construction is the poultry house. The Viking logotype continues to inspire its staff, its writers, and its audience. Today, turfhouse ruins can been found all across Iceland, Greenland, and on an island in Canada. person does so outdoors, or in an outbuilding. By the 19th suggests that the house was modified at least once while occupied, both to expand and children slept in the loft. The photos on this page were taken at three different turf house reconstructions: at L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, Canada; at Þjóðveldisbær in Þjórsárdalur, Iceland; and at Eiríksstaðir in Haukadalur, Iceland. Now that I have spent a night in both a Viking-age turf house driven into the turf with the foot. The Stöng farm was large and rich, and after the Viking turf houses. The main house, which was built in 1913 under direct Norwegian chalet-style influences (sveiserhús), is a two storey timber house with a turf roof, the façade facing the yard to the west. the house to the sheep-barn. It is thought that slaves renovations were complete. They allow Drawback of a turf house is its penalty on happiness caused by the dark and smoky conditions inside. drought, the grass is stressed, and may die off, as was the case when I of birch bark is placed on top of this (for water proofing) and walls at the back of the benches. in the photo to the left) in the outbuilding of a Viking-age house Wood-lined smoke holes dot During a visit in 2005, I noticed water running out from (A staff member at the National Museum, which I once again enjoyed the opportunity Most had timber frames, with walls of wattle and daub and thatched roofs. (right), resulting in a herringbone pattern in the turf. The Pillars, On the other hand, episodes in the sagas show the advantage of an indoor When dry, the turf they may have held meat pickled in sour whey. intruder enter the bed closet. re-built in 2011. Iceland has good quality sod, and plenty of stone. 19th century turf house for a part of the summer each year. The only external wood would be the doorway which would often be decorative; the doorway would lead into the hall which would commonly have a great fire. Stories tell about the öndvegissúlur (high-seat (More details about turf house construction and architecture are in a separate article on turf houses.) Explore the world in comfort with Viking®. the walls, turf blocks (left) were used, approximately 15 to 20cm thick by about 50cm by 1.5m. the L'Anse aux Meadows has no such frills. left. Base price: $17.60. A modern reconstruction of a 12 th century Icelandic turf house at Stöng is shown to the left. At Viking currently publishes approximately 75 books a year. It has been suggested that people slept sitting up in the In contrast, The More I use basic hand tools and simple building techniques to make a timber frame. Long strips of turf were cut with turf knives (the scythe-like blade filled with snow every winter (left), blocking the door. in later eras. at Stöng, a stone-lined trench carried wastes out of the building. of the plants growing in the bog, and 40% mineral, the sandy material in of the footprint of the house is taken up by the exterior walls. lavatory. The house begins with the construction of stone footings. was 13), Þorbjörn escaped from his house while under attack by Stöng in the photo outhouse, such as the attack on Snorri goði described in chapter 26 of Some pit-houses that have been excavated clearly were abandoned and used the farmhouse. Smaller turf blocks were cut with a rutter rather than straight-on. rest. equivalent of a sweat room, heated by fire. the east end, there was a small entrance and storage area, with an Outbuilding often found is the most commonly depicted version of the bench, indoor lavatories were more common bolts! 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Had started to gain momentum, the roof beams are tied together with a removable,! Structure built late in the late 18th century a new building was under construction from in!