Graphical Construction Glossary >> Roofs and roofing. >> Roof Trusses >> Cruck construction

Cruck Construction
A category of medieval architecture of unsure origin where the main load bearing members are crucks. Large section naturally bent timbers that reach from the height of the roof to the floors. Later they extended to low side walls.
Wattle and Daub.
A method of building walls using interlaced thin lathes or branches (wattles) that are roughly plastered over with clay (daub) typically as infill panels between timber framing.
The branch of botany involving the study of trees and shrubs.
In old timber framed buildings it is used to date the time that trees were felled, and so the construction date, by a study of the annual growth rings. The pattern of annual rings in a core sample from the timber is compared to known dated samples on various databases. Far more accurate than carbon dating.

a small cruck constructed building.

The sketch above is of a small cruck constructed cottage. The type of framing is known as half timbered. Typical of the middle ages in Europe the green oak (usually) frame was built first and then the panels were filled in with wattle and daub or maybe clay bricks.

This cottage would be referred to as a four cruck or three bay cruck building.

hall of the knights

The first use of crucks in construction is lost in the depths of time. Being timber they obviously do not last as long as masonry.

What can be said though is that cruck building methods were used by primitive man as early as the 4th century in Northern Europe.

Above is a sketch of the cruck roof or cruck trussed roof of the Knights Hall in The Hague, constructed in the 13th century.

cruck constructed Rivinton Barn
The cruck constructed Rivington Barn in Lancashire. UK.

Most of the buildings that survive from medieval times in Europe are barns. These buildings have centuries of sevice doing the job that they were designed for.

Rivington Barn above near Bolton is an example of this massive type of construction.

A joint detail, Rivington Barn in Lancashire. UK.

The hammer beam roof to the Great hall in Westminster is regarded by many as "the greatest creation of medieval timber architecture" and can be said to be the culmination of the development of cruck construction in Europe. The hall was re roofed in 1395 by master carpenter Hugh Herland. It is the largest of it's kind in Britain measuring 20.7 by 73.2 metres (68 by 240 ft). It has a staggering height from floor to ridge of 27.6 (90ft 6 inches).

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"What can be added to the happiness of a man who is in health, out of debt, and has a clear conscience?
Adam Smith 1723-1790

"When we build, let us think that we build for ever."John Ruskin 1819-1900

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