Iron Age Britain: Friendly and civilised people...


This is the roundhouse at Bodrifty Farm in Cornwall, England. All of Britain was once covered with roundhouses; a simple shape enclosing the largest space for the least use of materials.


Bodrifty village is in the Penwith district of West Cornwall. Penwith is the first place in Britain to be mentioned in writing in 325 B.C. by a Greek called Pytheas who wrote: “The people are friendly to strangers and from their contact with foreign merchants are civilised in their way of life.”

The roundhouse is built where excavations in the 1950s found an Iron Age settlement of eight roundhouses. This is a reconstruction of one of the roundhouses at the farm. It's different from most timber roundhouses because its walls are stone slabs with a roundwood timber and thatch roof. The bed (right) is a flight of fancy from the Middle Ages but suits the house nonetheless.

The reeds for the home came from 2 acres of local marshland, the granite stones, some weighing 2 tons, came from the farm left lying around by generations of farmers. The roof rests on a ring of oak pillars with hazel laths to support the reed. The gaps in the stone walls are filled with 'rab', a local sub soil, mixed with lime.