Clay Dabbin House, Burgh-by-Sands, England

This evening, I am focusing on an unusual building style which traces back to the Viking era, about 1100 years ago.

The example illustrated above can be found at Burgh-by-Sands in Cumbria, N.W. England.

This structure is known as ‘Clay Dabbin’ and is common in Cumbria with about 150 examples surviving. Similar buildings can be found in Denmark and Iceland thus confirming the Viking heritage.

With limited conventional building materials available people of the Solway Plain were forced to resort to an abundant local resource, namely clay. Such a house would have been constructed relatively quickly in three stages:

  1. A wooden, oak framework securely interlinked with base standing on a padstone.
  2. Walls in-filled with a mix of straw, rushes, clay, peat and cobbles.
  3. Roof made of turf or shingles, later thatch.

Such structures would have originally comprised one room but later evolved into two stories and multiple rooms.

The clay has good insulating qualities and the overall structure has proved remarkably resilient in the sometimes hostile climate of the Solway region.

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