May 2012

Our neolithic-style roundhouse had been standing for ten years in the wild heart of Dartmoor, and survived a series of winters with much snow and many storms,  when we decided that, finally, the roof needed a new layer of thatch. We had made several repairs to the top of the cone during this time and patched some damaged areas but now the original rye grass was worn thin and rotting to a depth of several inches, and in some places the wooden spars and beams were starting to be exposed. We welcomed back Sam Carnell, the master thatcher who supervised the creation of the first roof, along with his original thatcher’s mate, John Sharpe. Nigel assisted with ground work and the making of wheatstraw eave wads, joined by Tom Leworthy who came to learn thatching techniques for the first time. Carolyn provided tea, cakes and fine ale. We were lucky to hit a period of hot and dry weather.

The roundhouse has seen thousands of people enter its doors over the last ten years: so many workshop participants, passing visitors, festival celebrants, invited groups and local village residents. Those who have travelled from ice, mountain, desert, distant islands and nearby hills to share bright fires, ancient tales, deep songs, wild drumming, gentle fluting, beautiful rituals, quiet vigils and all the magic to be found sitting in a circle inside thatch and stone and oak. Here are thanks to this extraordinary house for sheltering so much – and thanks to Sam Carnell for all his work to keep the roundhouse roof going.

Here is a time-lapse film and photo diary of the re-thatching…

Day 1
ThatchDay1d ThatchDay1b
Day 2
ThatchDay2c ThatchDay2e
Day 3
ThatchDay3c ThatchDay3d
Day 4
ThatchDay4c ThatchDay4d
Day 5
ThatchDay5a ThatchDay5b ThatchDay5c
Day 6
ThatchDay6a ThatchDay6d ThatchDay6b
Sam John Tom
Sam John Tom
Lower Merripit Roundhouse 2012
Roundhouse2012a Roundhouse2012b Roundhouse2012c