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Trees and Timber in the Anglo-Saxon World$
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Michael D. J. Bintley and Michael G. Shapland

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199680795

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199680795.001.0001

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The Sophistication of Late Anglo-Saxon Timber Buildings

The Sophistication of Late Anglo-Saxon Timber Buildings

(p.45) 3 The Sophistication of Late Anglo-Saxon Timber Buildings
Trees and Timber in the Anglo-Saxon World

Mark Gardiner

Oxford University Press

The Anglo-Saxons were skilled and flexible craftsmen in timber, but their buildings are commonly reconstructed either as crude and unsophisticated huts or as elaborately decorated halls. This chapter questions this binary distinction, seeking to emphasize the flexibility and adaptability of Anglo-Saxon building practice through close analysis of the layout and execution of excavated structures. Craftsmen appear to have relied on skilled experience rather than geometry or the repetition of established forms in even the most elaborate structures, such as aisled halls. Posts were carefully aligned, their post-settings cut with the same care—even the same tools—as the timber superstructure. Bow-sided walls were conceived to exaggerate the perception of a building’s size. Anglo-Saxon craftsmen modified their techniques and styles in order to suit a variety of circumstances, which is manifested in the sophistication of their timber architecture.

Keywords:   timber, buildings, craftsmanship, planning, alignment

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