Build a mini-roundhouse!
As the name suggests, roundhouses are houses that are round! They were popular places to live in the Bronze and Iron Ages right across Britain and western Europe. One type of rounhouse had wooden upright posts, and woven wattle walls of willow or hazel. The woven walls were covered in daub – a mixture of clay, straw and animal poo (yuck!). Archaeological evidence shows that wattle and daub has been used to make the walls of buildings for at least 6,000 years!
Try our fab activity to build your own wattle and daub roundhouse... on a slightly smaller scale!
Adult supervision is required.
Ages : Suitable for all ages.
Time Required: 3 hours (this activity takes a long time - you may want to do a few stages a day during your school holidays!)
If you are using willow/hazel lengths, you may need to soak them overnight to ensure that they are flexible.
Draw a circle about 25cm in diameter onto your MDF base board. Mark eight dots around the circle at regular intervals.
Ask an adult to drill eight holes through your base where you have marked the dots. The holes must be big enough for your 10mm dowel lengths to fit in tightly.
Ask an adult to help you cut your dowel into the correct lengths for both the roof and uprights, using a hacksaw. The uprights need to be 12cm long, and the roof pieces need to be 25cm long.
Glue your upright dowels (12cm long, 10mm diameter) into the base. You may need a hammer to tap them in tightly. Leave them to dry so that they are secure before you build your wall.
Weave the willow or hazel lengths (or basket weaving canes) in and out of the uprights to build your wall, leaving one section between two uprights as a doorway. Leave about 3cm at the top of the uprights sticking out; this is where the roof will join on.
Time to get mucky! Daub the walls using clay. Wait for the daub to dry before adding the roof.
Add the roof by tying the 25cm long, 8mm diameter dowel roof beams to the upright poles using twine. Tie the beams together where they meet in the centre. (For this example picture, we added the roof beams before building the walls.)
Add struts of twigs or lolly sticks in between the beams; these are necessary to give stability and allow thatch to be tied on.
Tie the raffia into small bundles and then, working from the bottom up, tie these bundles onto the beams and struts to thatch your roof.
You've now finished building your roundhouse. Well done! You may want to test how good your roundhouse would be to live in... Place a sponge inside your roundhouse, and pour a known quantity of water over the roof to simulate rainfall. Squeeze out your sponge to see how much ‘rain’ got through!
- MDF board 30cm x 30cm and approx 8mm thick
- Pair of compasses
- 8 lengths of dowel 12cm long, 10mm in diameter for uprights
- 8 lengths of dowel 25cm long, 8mm in diameter for roof structure
- Hammer (optional; our pegs needed a bit of a whack!)
- Glue to hold dowel uprights in place firmly
- Twigs or lolly sticks to make struts in between roof beams
- Garden twine for binding
- Willow or hazel withies for wattle walls (ask at your local garden centre or look online); or you can use basket weaving canes available from craft shops or online
- Clay for daub (you could add straw for authenticity!)
- Raffia or similar material for the roof thatching
- An adult to help