How Thatch Roofs Work and Were Made in the Middle Ages [Medieval Professions: Thatcher]


hello everyone and welcome back to Kobe

in history today we are gonna have a

look at another medieval profession the

touch sure touching is a form of roof

building ready used materials are dry

vegetation such as straw water read

heather and so on which are usually

sourced locally it's a very old roofing

method and it has been used in both

tropical and temperate climates all over

the world because touch is lighter than

most roofing materials last ember was

needed to construct in a roof that

supports the touch and due to it being a

versatile material it can easily be used

in combination with irregular roof

shapes after the inner roof was

constructed the straw was packed

together into bundles called yelps then

these Young's were taken up to the roof

where they were laid down and a special

kind of comb was used to brush them all

in the right direction


then there are also sometimes died in

place using sticks but from what I

gathered this didn't always happen the

touch was done attached to the roof

using a sort of staple known as sparse

which were usually made by twisting

sticks of Hazel in medieval times almost

all these roofs were touched using the

stems of beet or rye or a mixture of


medieval wheat could grow up to six feet

tall which produced terrible straw for

touching roofs and grain for baking

breads the modern varieties of weeds are

much shorter than their medieval

counterparts which has probably

something to do with the decrease of

touched roofs over time a touch roof can

last for a really long time when using

good-quality straw applied by a skilled

Thatcher and with proper maintenance to

keep a dry inside they layered the touch

in such a way as to shed water away from

the inner roof as quickly as possible to

achieve this the roof was hugely pitched

at an angle of 45 to 55 degrees

thanks to this technique the majority of

the Dutch stayed dry and it was also

densely packed together trapping air and

thus also functioning as insulation it

does not require frequent maintenance as

a disquiet weather resistant by nature

in England a layer of touch normally

lost for eight to fourteen years when it

needed to be repaired a new layer of

touch was simply applied over the

weathered surface this new layer is

referred to as a spar coating this

tradition has created accumulations of

touch that can be over seven feet thick

on very old buildings even today over

250 roofs in southern England have a

base coating of touch that was applied

over five hundred years ago

following a major fire in 1212 it was

forbidden in London to build new roofs

made of touch the clock theater was one

of the only few exceptions of this ban

it was a public theater built in 1599

but was destroyed by a fire in 1613 but

was rebuilt a year after and demolished

in 1644 during the excavation of the

nearby Rose Theatre in the 1980s a piece

of thatched roof was discovered by

archaeologists of the Museum of London

the modern Globe Theatre built in 1997

was built as a reconstruction of the

theatres of that time and is one of the

only few touched buildings left in

London however its touch is purely for

decoration and lies on top of modern

roof until the late 18-hundreds touch

remains the most commonly used roofing

material in England especially in the

countryside and in many towns and

villages as well the commercial

production of Welsh slate began in 1820

a new transport methods such as canals

and railways made other building

materials like slate more readily

available to compete with the locally

sourced ash still the number of touched

properties actually increased in the UK

during the mid eighteen hundreds

it wouldn't be before the later part of

the 19th century that touch saw its

decline as more and more people moved

into the cities touch gradually became a

mark of poverty and the number of

professional touchers declined as well

in the UK it became legal in 1964 for an

individual or an organization to give

trade or sell seeds of an older variety

of wheat or any other agricultural crop


third party for growing purposes because

of this Thatcher's and the UK could no

longer obtain the top quality touching

straw of the medieval tall stamped

varieties of cereal grains today water

read is used for touch and stud which

previously was rarely used for touching

outside of East Anglia and contrast to

the touch made from cereal crops water

retouch has usually been a one coat

material matter treat is usually

stripped from the roof and replaced by a

whole new layer today touch is still

used in developing countries usually due

to the low cost of the local vegetation

in the UK touch has once again become

much more popular over the last thirty

years because of the renewed interest

and preserving historic buildings and

using more sustainable building

materials it is now considered a symbol

of wealth rather than poverty and there

are about a thousand full-time dentures

left in the UK today thanks for watching

this video about the craft of touching

if you want to learn more about other

medieval professions you can click the

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