Superimposition of plans of early medieval timber structures from the Continent and Britain. The orange marks and arrows highlight what scholars have considered as possible similarities in the modular setting of the plan and in the opposed doors opened on the long sides of the buildings. Animation elaborated from: Hamerow 2002, 20, fig. 2.8 ( and from Google Earth.

There are some similar features between British and continental architecture during the 6th century. These include the wattle being used in the construction, pairs of timber posts to support the roof, and doors on the long sides of buildings. This is further confirmed by sunken-featured buildings, called grubenhäuser to stress its Germanic origin. It is found in Britain from the 5th – 8th century, contemporary with their presence on the Continent.   

However, large longhouses which were the main structure in continental farmsteads are not found in Britain, where timber structures are much smaller. Similarly, while humans and animals lived in the longhouses together, there is no evidence of this happening in British timber buildings.  

‘Identity’ is a social construct, so it’s dangerous to label buildings as “Romano-British” or “Anglo-Saxon” from a modern perspective. They emerged due to long, complex interactions between groups of people from different areas and with different identities.

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