English Medieval Architecture (1180-1530)

The aim of this site is to aid research into English medieval architecture, especially Late-Medieval carpentry and the Medieval Open Hall through the medium of Buildings Archaeology coupled with Digital Archaeology.

The Photographic Archive holds the largest collection of images relating to medieval carpentry joints on the web!

The Open Hall

The medieval open hall is a classic structure synonymous with the timber-framed and thatched cottages of yesteryear. The open hall was a hugely important aspect of late medieval society, forming the central space within a house where social interactions took place around an open fire. It generally consists of three main parts –

  1. the main central hall open to the roof with a fire place and Dias table
  2. the owners living and sleeping area
  3. the service end containing the main entrance and cross-passage, rooms for food storage, workers accommodation or animal housing.

This standard layout is often refered to as the 'tripartite' plan.

The floor of the late-medieval open hall house was generally formed by beaten earth and always featured an open hearth, towards the centre, to provide both heating and an area for cooking. The open hall was popular from Saxon times up until the reformation and was replaced with a floored hall in the early 16th century. The hall was also present in all forms of construction, be it box-frame, base-cruck or cruck and, although plan forms varied regionally, the hall was always a constant. Click me to read more about the open hall.

The photographic archive offers a unique picture record of hundreds of timber-framed buildings and carpentry joints from the medieval period. It really is a gem!

Listen to our podcast on the Black Death

Follow us!

  • Follow us!

  • Continuing research into English Late-Medieval Carpentry

    scarf joint

    Dr Richard Haddlesey PhD is presently actively involved in surveying timber-framed properties in Hampshire and Dorset between AD1180 and 1530. He has found many interesting timber joints, and as a result, this website will constantly evolve and be updated regularly. Please feel free to email Richard with questions and suggestions.

    As such we offer a professional recording and dating service called Historic Building Consultations

    Late-Medieval carpenters were architects, project managers and builders

    scarf joint pre 1350

    Approximately 108 timber-framed medieval buildings have been dendrochronologically dated to between AD1244 and 1530 in Hampshire alone. As part of Richards doctoral research, an extensive survey has been carried out on these buildings to record the different types of carpentry joints used in their construction; these joints have then been grouped, by type, to provide a typo-chronology used by medieval carpenters. The survey currently stands at 97% due to a lack of response by some property owners. Although his project is heavily informed by scientific dating methods (dendrochronology) theory is also an important component. Once the chrono-typologies have been produced and cross- referenced with regard to Cecil Hewett's Essex data (English Historic Carpentry Hewett 1980), the effects, if any, of the Black Death (1348-50) on medieval carpentry techniques and technologies, used in central southern England, can be analysed.