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Henricus, Virginia (Replica) Circa 1610 - 1620


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Put in about 9.5 miles on my mountain bike this afternoon and snapped these for those who might find it interesting.

The thatch roofs are about 12" thick. It's pretty hard to imagine living in a home of approximately 96 SF.

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I built a similar timber framed reproduction at a 17th century farm museum. The early settlers up here had sense enough to install weatherboards to protect the frame, wattle and daub. We didn't use thatch, but covered the roof with white oak shingles.

I did assist with repairs to a thatched roof in MA and actually inspected an early 18th century tavern with reed thatch. It's the only inspection report that I ever used the terms "fixings, sways & liggers".

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Unfortunatly, the settlement was closed and I was unable to see any more than what you see in these pictures.

Would you kindly describe the construction in detail, Bill? I'm particularly interested in the foundation and wall section. Also, what would the floor most likely have been? Earth?

What would the fireplace and flue have been constucted of? (I assume brick wasn't an option.) Clay and stone?

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Sorry Michael, I guess I missed your previous post.

There's really not much to describe. It's a very simple structure and like many 17th century secondary buildings, was not constructed to be the most permanent of structures. It was a reproduction of a plantation worker's cottage (indentured servants up here). The focus was on demonstrating the craft, not the final result.

The sill timbers were hand hewn locust, and the remaining timbers were oak, reclaimed from a dismantled barn. The foundation was nothing more than river stone from the Delaware, placed on grade to keep the sills off the ground. All timber joints were mortise and tenon, except the braces, which were attached to the posts and rafter sills with half-lap dovetail joints. All m&t joints were pegged with "trennels" (tree nails). Three framed bents created two bays. These bents were raised and then secured with the rafter sills.

The rafters are joined at the peak with fork & tenon joints and then are simply pegged into the rafter sills. Hand split oak was used for the spaced wood battens for nailing the shingles.

The wattle and daub consisted of split oak lathe installed vertically within the frames and willow was woven horizontally through the lathe. The daub consisted of clay, mud, cattle poo and straw. The weatherboards were hand split oak without planing the face or edges.

This was all completed with hand tools of the period. No tool used was less than 210 years old.

There was no fireplace, but other original buildings' fireplaces, chimneys and some foundations at this site were brick. Most likely the brick came from Britain as ballast for ships coming over to return with some resources from the colony.

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Thanks, Bill.

Very interesting.

Yeah, I was wondering how the very earliest colonies heated their buildings. It was hard to imagine, for instance, that the first visitors brought brick for fireplaces. :-D But, while I have been to both Williamsburg and Jamestown, they were a ways down the road from Manteo. I'll have to check that out next time I'm down at the outer banks.

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