Thirlings Hall

Period Early Medieval era (probably 5th – 6th century AD/CE).
Building Type Timber framed building with wattle and daub walls and thatched roof.
Description Building A is better known to us as Thirlings Hall, so named after the Early Medieval settlement of Thirlings in Northumberland which was extensively excavated between 1973 and 1981 by Roger Millet and Colm O’Brien. One of 12 buildings at Thirlings, Building A was chosen as the subject of a (re)construction experiment as it was well-documented in the archaeological record, somewhat typical of buildings from the era and had some irregularities which, it was decided, would make it and interesting example to build and analyse further. Due to the acidity of the Thirlings site, no timbers remained in the ground and there are no timber buildings from the era still standing so we can never be certain about some details, finishes and uses however the (re)construction was done with integrity. Perhaps buildings of this type would have been divided into separate spaces with partition walls or included a mezzanine level but because we cannot know, the internal space has not been embellished beyond what there is strong archaeological evidence for.
Project Team Bede’s World in-house team: Susan Mills (Curator), Michael Hayes, Mark Stewart (XX) Richard Darrah (external consultant). Scientific Advisors; Robin Daniels and Colm O’Brien (directors of the excavations used for the (re) construction). Additional Advisors; Heather Clements, Professor Rosemary Cramp, Professor Peter Fowler, Peter Hill, Professor Martin Millet and Dominic Powlesland
Material 30,500kg of green oak from 50-60 year old trees, sourced from Raby Estate in County Durham. 70 ash poles from Suffolk. Hazel rods from Cumbria. 1,800 reed bundles from Tayside, Scotland and 125 sedge bundles from Cumbria. 25,000kg local boulder clay and straw. * Roof: Rafters of ash poles resting on the oak ridge beams with wattles of willow and hazel as a base for the thatch of reed and sedge. Walls: oak trunks, wattle of hazel, birch and willow and daub of clay and straw finished with limewash. Floor: earth. * Interesting note on the materials used: the materials for the (re)construction came from diverse sources around the UK. The availability of these building materials is different from in the Early Medieval period when woods were managed in such a way that timber being grown would be suitable for construction whereas today, forest management is focussed on completely different needs.
References O’Brien, C. and Miket, R. (1991). The Early Medieval Settlement of Thirlings, Northumberland, Durham Archaeological Journal Vol. 7, 57 – 91.
Links Romeo Pitone, M. (2020). “From Bede’s World back to Jarrow Hall”. Presentation for the International Conference “Documentation Strategies in (Archaeological) Open-Air Museums, co-organised by EXARC and Museumsdorf Düppel (DE) on the 26th and 27th March 2020: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8iNTgo_P43Q&t=1s Romeo Pitone, M., Foschi, G. and Romeo Pitone, R. (2021). “Re-constructions, 3D Models and Soundscapes at Jarrow Hall”. Presentation for the 12th Experimental Archaeology Conference – EAC12, co-organised by EXARC and University of Exeter on the 29th-1st April 2021: (link will be available from the 1st of April)
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