A Glossary of Thatching Names and Terms


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s well as a list of the technical terms and names, used throughout this site; I have also included other names, which are not mentioned in the text. Hopefully allowing this glossary to also act as a basic reference, to the myriad nomenclature found in the craft.

Also included are terms from the dialects and languages, of the Channel Islands, Cornwall, Wales and Scotland….

However the list below is by no means a complete collection of thatching terms. Each and every thatcher in Britain could supply their own…

Alternative names are in brackets. Other glossary entries are in italics. (I have not cross referenced all the various names, for a Thatching Spar, due to the many terms, used to describe this humble article….


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 Frame: (Principal Rafter) The largest timbers, in a normal roof construction. These upright timbers sit on the Wall Plates and rest against the Ridge Board. And carry the Purlins and Common Rafters. Traditionally spaced 16 feet (4.8m) apart, forming a Bay. See Cruck Construction.

Arris Rail: (Tilting Fillet.) A triangular strip of wood, attached to a roof’s Wall Plate. Providing uplift; or Springing or Kick, to the Eaves of a thatch.

B
ackfilling: Thatching material, placed above the Line of Fixings, in a Course of thatch, to enable that course to lie steeper. Creating more Springing or Kick.

Barge: (Verge or Gable) A thatching Feature . Which covers a wall, forming the end of a roof. See Masonry Gable, Boarded Gable, Left hand Turning Gable, Right Hand Turning Gable and Rolled Gable.

Barge Board: Wooden board, on the top edge of a Barge. Either giving uplift, for a Turning Gable. Or forming the edge of a Boarded Gable.

Barley Straw: Thatching material, the stems of hordeum vulgare…

Bat: (Biddle or Legget.) A hand tool, used to drive reed thatching into place. A term from the South West of Britain.

Battens: The informal name, for Roof Battens.

Bay: A section, along the length, of a roof or building. Created in the spaces between the main roof timbers. Traditionally 16 feet (4.8m) in length. See Cruck Construction, A Frame or Principal Rafter.

Bed: A layered pile of wetted Long Straw; constructed on the ground. From which Yealms are pulled.

Bent: Thatching material. A name, from the Isle of Man and Scotland, for Marram Grass.

Biddle (1): (Thatcher‘s Square or Thatcher‘s Horse.) A wooden frame, with pair of spikes set in the top. These are pushed into the Coat; allowing the thatcher to climb up and over them; extending their reach. Found mainly in South West Britain. See Hanger.

Biddle (2): Yet another name for a Legget or Bat. A Hand Tool, used to drive reed thatching into position.

Binder: Term commonly used to describe a Self Binding Reaper.

Block Finish: A type of ridge finish. Which utilises a Skirt of thatch, to create either a Straight Block Ridge, or an Ornamental Block Ridge.

Bottle: A small tied bundle of Long Straw, used to create the Eaves of a thatch. Also used with the Stobbing method of thatching.

Boarded Gable: A type of Gable. Forming a Straight Feature. Mainly found from the North Midlands northwards. The thatch does not swing out over the end wall, but rests against a large Barge Board.

Bobbins: (Knots) The twisted handfuls of material, that make up the top layer of a Rope Top Ridge.

Bracken: Thatching material. The stems of pteridium aquilinum…

Broach: (Scob, Spar, Scollop or Thatching Spar) A term widely used, in the eastern counties of England. For a split and pointed length of wood, usually hazel or willow. Which is twisted in the middle, and used to hold down thatching material.

Brod: A name from Yorkshire, for a Spar or Broach

Broom: (Whin) Thatching Material. The heads of cytisus scoparius…

Brow course: A half sized layer of thatch, placed on top of the Eaves course; to increase the Springing or Kick of the Coatwork.

Buckle: (Thatching Spar or Spar) A Herefordshire name, for a Spar

Bunch: A Norfolk term; for a Standard Sized bundle of Water Reed.

Burden: The loaded capacity, of a Yoke; full of long straw Yealms.

Butts up ridge: A type of ridge. Consisting of a layer of Combed Wheat Reed, bottoms up, on either side of a ridge; merging together at the apex.

C
aber: A Scottish term; for a smallish wooden pole. See Caber Frame, Leaning Caber and Crook and Caber.

Caber Frame: A framework of timber poles, or Cabers. Laid over a thatch, to act as extra reinforcement against wind damage. Mainly found in South West Scotland.

Catslide: A type of roof construction. Where a single storey extension, usually at the rear or end of a building; allows the main roof to continue over it, in an unbroken line.

Coarse Reed: A Grade of Water Reed. Which consists of bundles of bent reed. Or reed that is wider at the top than the bottom. But this should still be of good quality. It is mainly used in Valleys and as Backfilling. See Medium Reed and Fine Reed.

Coat: A competed covering of thatch.

Coatwork: The various layers and Fixings that make up the thatch Coat.

Colts: Young shoots of Water Reed, which appear in the spring.

Combed Wheat Reed: Thatching material, which has been processed by a Reed Comer. The finished thatching material, is laid Reedwise, that is butts downwards. And can consist of cereals other than wheat. Formally produced by hand, with a Hand Comb or Reed Press.

Common Rafter: (Jack Rafter) Upright roof timbers. That rest on the Purlins and Ridge Board. And are set on the Wall Plates; and carry the Roof Battens. Normally spaced with 16 inch (400mm) centres, along the roof.

Coppice: Woodland, mainly hazel, regularly cut down to the ground; every seven to ten years. To enable straight growth to reoccur. Often producing Gadds. See Pollard, Overstood and Stool

Course: (Sett) A layer of Standard Thatching. Running horizontally across the roof. See also Brow Course, Levelling Course and Top Sett.

Cradle: (Knave or Groom) Thatcher’s equipment. Used to hold material on the roof until needed.

Craw Prod: (Crow Stick) A stout wooden stick fixed in the ridge end; from which the roping around a Hipped End is fixed, in the Highlands and Islands.

Crook: Metal spike, with a hooked end. Ranging from 6 to12 inches (150 to 300mm) in length. Used with a Sway or Ledger, to fix a Course, of thatching material, directly to the roof timbers.

Crook and Caber: A method of fixing thatch from the outside. The crook consisting of a pointed hooked branch; pegging down a small straight branch; the caber. Used in Scotland, as a stouter alterative to Spars and Liggers.

Cross spar: A Ridge decoration. Made up of straight Thatching Spars, forming a diagonal cross, between two Liggers. See Herringbone.

Crow steps: A Scottish term; for a stepped Skew or Masonry Gable. These were often protected with Turf, in the past.

Crow Stick: (Craw Prod) A stout wooden stick fixed in the ridge end; from which the roping around a Hipped End is fixed, in the Highlands and Islands.

Cruck Construction: An early form of roof construction. In which pairs of naturally curved Crucks, Highland Couples or Curved Tree Principals, carried the weight of the roof, straight to the ground. (As opposed to using Principal Rafters or A Frames.) If set on a wall these are known as Raised Crucks. Often set 16 feet (4.8m) apart, to form a Bay.

Crucks: (Highland Couples or Curved Tree Principals) Pairs of naturally curved timbers. Which carry the weight of the roof straight to the ground. See Raised Crucks.

Curved Tree Principals: (Crucks or Highland Couples) Pairs of naturally curved timbers. Which carry the weight of the roof straight to the ground. See Raised Crucks.

D
epth of Fixing: In standard thatching; the distance between the outside of the thatch Coat and the hidden Fixings, holding it in place. This important measurement remains fairly constant, at around 6 to 8 inches (150 to 200mm). Whatever type or length, of thatching material, is being used.

Directional Thatching Method: Also known as Repairwork and Rickthatching. A type of thatching. Where the layers of material are generally thinner, than the courses used in the Standard method. And are fixed into place from the outside; by wooden fixings, such as Spars. Or weighted ropes or wire netting; when used in the Highlands and Islands of Britain. See Standard and Random methods.

Divot: A Scottish term; for an oblong shaped piece of Turf, often used in ridging.

Doglegged: (Lodged) Crooked cereal straw, created when the crop blew over, then later grew straight.

Dolly: (Ridge Roll) Long thin bundles of tied material. Added as the ridge is built up; to create thickness and Springing.

Domestic Thatching: When the craft is practiced on various buildings. As opposed to work Rickthatching.

Dormer Window: A window created entirely in the roof space. Can form either a Turning or Straight thatching Feature. See Eyebrow Window.

Drawing (1):The act of pulling cereal straw, from a Reed Press. A old method of producing Combed Wheat Reed.

Drawing (2): In times past, a name given to Yealming long straw. Usually when the material was simply pulled from a stack or rick etc. And not from a Bed.

Dressing (1): A Norfolk term; for processing a Water Reed bundle or Bunch, so that it is cleaned and of a regular size.

Dressing (2): The process of cleaning down, tiding and trimming, a newly thatched roof.

Dutchman: A small conical Legget. Used to drive reed thatching into position, in awkward situations. The design originally coming from the Netherlands.

E
asing hook: An old name for an Eaves Hook.

Eastern Tradition: Term used to describe an area, with a distinctive traditional thatching style. The steep pitch and very angular shape of the roofs; are all completed with the Standard method of thatching. This along with the design of the Ridge at a Gable end, sets this area apart. With Block Ridging probably evolving here. These details are to be found, in the eastern counties of England, as far north as Lincolnshire and as far west as Hertfordshire. With some details being shared with Germany and the Netherlands.

Eaves: (Office) The overhanging bottom edge of a roof. Made up of tied bundles of thatch when constructed of cereal straw. See Wadd and Bottle.

Eaves chimney: A Straight Feature; where a chimney rises from the bottom edge of a roof. See Gable End Chimney and Ridge Chimney.

Eaves hook: (Easing Hook) Thatcher’s hand tool. A gently curving metal hook. Used to trim cereal straw eaves. See Short Eaves Knife and Long Eaves Knife.

Eyebrow window: A window resting on the top of a wall or partly set into it. Can form either a Turning or Straight thatching Feature. See Dormer Window.

F
acia Board: Wooden boarding, attached to a roof’s Wall Plate. Providing uplift; or Springing or Kick, to the Eaves of a thatch. See Arris Rail and Barge Board.

Fathom (1): Measurement used in Norfolk equalling 6 feet (1.8m). The distance around the butt ends, of six Standard Size bundles, or Bunches of Norfolk Reed or Water Reed. See Long Fathom.

Fathom (2): An amount equalling six. Used in Norfolk when ordering Norfolk Reed or Water Reed. (e.g. 100 fathoms of reed, equals six hundred bundles or Bunches.)

Feature: A section of a thatch roof, that either does not run cleanly from ridge to eaves; when a Straight Feature is encountered. Or where the roof construction makes the thatcher, swing away from a straight line. When a Turning Feature is formed.

Fine reed: A Grade of Water Reed. Which consists of bundles of shortish reed, with a distinct taper. Used to create Turning Features. See Medium Reed and Coarse Reed.

First Whale Reed: Water Reed, that has been harvested, on an annual cutting cycle. See Second Whale Reed.

Fixing: Means of holding thatch in place. See Thatching Spar, Crook, Tarred Twine, Crook and Caber, Ledger, Ligger, Caber frame, Leaning Caber, Links, and Linksten.

Flaughter Spade: A form of breast plough. Used to strip Turf, of various thickness and size. See Divot, Scraw and Pone.

Flush finish: (Shear Out Ridge) A Ridge detail. Where the bottom edge of the ridge forms a seamless join, into the top of the Coatwork. See Block Finish.

Full hipped end: A Turning Feature, Where the entire roof slope, is carried around the end of a building. See Half Hipped End, Quarter Hipped End and Hiplet.

G
able: (Barge or Verge) A thatching Feature. Which covers a wall, forming the end of a roof. See Masonry Gable, Boarded Gable, Left hand Turning Gable, Right Hand Turning Gable and Rolled Gable.

Gable End Chimney: Where a chimney is found at the apex of a Gable end. Can be part of either a Straight or Turning Feature; depending on which type of thatched Gable is used. See Eaves Chimney and Ridge Chimney.

Gadd; A prepared length of willow or hazel wood. Used to manufacture Thatching Spars, Liggers and Ledgers.

Gavel: (Yealm) An old name, used in south Norfolk and north Suffolk.

Grades; The divisions of Water Reed. Consisting of Fine Reed, Medium Reed and Coarse Reed.

Grading: The process of dividing up Water Reed, into its various Grades.

Groom: (Yoke or Cradle) In many parts this name substitutes for a Cradle. Except in the Hertfordshire area, where it does the same for a Yoke.

H
alf Hipped End: A Turning Feature, Where the top half of the roof slope is carried around the end of a building. See Full Hipped End, Quarter Hipped End and Hiplet.

Hand comb: A small hand tool, usually with several long teeth. Formally used in the preparation of Combed Wheat Reed. See Reed Press and Reed Comber and Nitch.

Hanger: (Hanging Ladder) Thatching equipment, consisting of a short ladder, with a pair of spikes set in the top. These are pushed into the Coat; allowing the thatcher climb up and over them; extending their reach. See Biddle.

Hanging Ladder: (Hanger) The more formal name, for a Hanger. See Biddle.

Haulm: (Stubble) A term from the Middle Ages onwards. For the long stubble, left after Reaping a cereal crop. This useful thatching material, was then harvested by Mowing.

Heather: (Ling) Thatching material. The stems of calluna vulgaris…

Herringbone; A ridge decoration. Made up of straight Thatching Spars, laid in a regular diagonal pattern, between three Liggers. After the style of a fishbone. See Cross Spar.

Hidden Length: A term for the extra Courses of material, needed to complete a Right or Left Hand Tuning Gable. (Here the roof does not increase in actual length; as with other Turning Features. But the turning thatch requires more material; as if it did.)

Hileing Up: (Stooking Up) A term from Wiltshire. The careful standing up and grouping together, of eight or so cereal sheaves, cut by a Self Binding Reaper. In a wind and waterproof manner; so they dry out. Eventually passing through either a Thrasher or Reed Comber.

Highland Couples: (Crucks or Curved Tree Principals) A Scottish term, for pairs of naturally curved timbers. Which carry the weight of the roof straight to the ground. See Raised Crucks.

Highland Traditions: Term used to describe an area, with distinctive traditional thatching styles. Here Standard thatching is not the normal working method. Nearly all thatch is fixed from the outside; mainly by roping or Liggers. An area that covers the Scottish North and West Highlands, The Hebrides, The Northern Isles, The Isle of Man and The Isles of Scilly. And the west coast of Ireland.

Hiplet: A Turning Feature, Where less than the top quarter of the roof slope is carried around the end of a building. See Full Hipped End, Quarter Hipped End and Half Hipped End.

Hipped End: A Turning Feature, Where all or some of the roof slope, is carried around the end of a building. See Full Hipped End, Half Hipped End, Quarter Hipped End and Hiplet.

J
ack: (Yoke) A forked stick, used to carry a Burden of Yealms on to a roof.

Jack Rafter: Another term for a Common Rafter.

K
ick: (Springing) The tension in a Course of standard thatching. Caused by the straight thatching material being fixed down, onto a dished surface. It is wholly or partially created, in various parts of the roof, by Backfilling, Ridge Rolls or Dollys and Arris Rail or Facia Board.

Knave: (Cradle or Groom) Thatcher’s equipment. Used to hold material on the roof until needed.

Knots; (Bobbins) The twisted handfuls of material, that make up the top layer of a Rope Top Ridge.

L
arge end: The bottom, or wider end, of a Long Straw Yealm. see Small End.

Leaning Caber: A fixing, consisting of a timber pole, or Caber, leant against the thatch roof, from the ground, and fixed at the eaves. Used in areas of Scotland, usually in conjunction with roping or Crook and Caber fixings.

Ledger: (Sway) A length of split wood, around 5 feet (1.5m) long. Used with metal Crooks, or wire ties; to hold down a Course of thatching material, directly onto the roof timbers. See Line of Fixing.

Left Hand Turning Gable: A Turning Feature. Where the thatch swings out over a left hand Gable end wall. See Right Hand Turning Gable and Hidden Length.

Legget: (Biddle or Bat.) A hand tool, used to drive reed thatching into place.

Levelling course: (Top Sett) The final Course of Standard thatching. Usually fixed all around the roof, in one operation. Covering the second Ridge Roll and levelling up the apex of the thatch, ready for the Ridge.

Ligger: (Rod or Wand) A spit wooden stick, of hazel or willow. Used in conjunction with Thatching Spars. To hold down the Ridge, any Repairwork and the edges of Long Straw roofs.

Line of Fixing: The point along a Course of Standard thatching, followed by a Straw Bond, Sway or Ledger. Where the course is fixed onto the roof. This should be between 15 and 20 inches (375 and 500 mm), up from the outside edge of the Course.

Liner: A thin layer of thatching material. Carefully placed on top of the Roof Battens. On top of which the thatched Coatwork is fixed. This gives a tidy finish to the underside of the roof; and stops thatch from slipping between the roof timbers.

Ling: (Heather) Thatching material. The stems of calluna vulgaris…

Links: A term from Shetland. For the ropes, used to fix the thatch on these islands. See Linksten

Linksten: The name given in Shetland, for the stones used to hold down the roping, covering thatched roofs here. See Links.

Listed: A colloquial term, for a building, on the list of Buildings of Historical or Architectural Interest. Maintained by the local authority.

Lodged (Doglegged) Crooked cereal straw, caused when the crop blew over, and later grew straight.

Long eaves knife: Thatching tool. A large straight bladed knife, used to trim Long Straw Eaves and Gables. See Short Eaves Knife and Eaves Hook.

Long Fathom: Measurement used in Norfolk equalling 6 feet (1.8m). The distance around the butt ends of five, larger than Standard Sized bundles, or Bunches of Norfolk Reed or Water Reed. See Fathom.

Long Straw (1): Thatching material. Cereal straw that has been thrashed. In the past, by hand, with a Flail. Modern thatch, being produced in a Thrasher. The ends of which do not lie in any one direction. Can be used in both Directional and Random thatching; as well as the Standard method.

Long Straw (2): Standard method of laying thatching material. In which the Courses are not driven, but laid into their final position. With the ends of the material not lying in any one direction. See Reedwise.

Lum; An old name for an early form of chimney. Often consisting of a open box or barrel, set in the apex of a thatch roof.

M
ansard Roof: A roof of two distinct roof pitches. A lower steep one, often covering the sides of any upper storey. And a flatter upper pitch. These are mostly found in Essex and Suffolk.

Marram Grass: (Bent) Thatching material. The stems of ammophila arenaria…

Masonry Gable: (Skew or Watertable) A Straight Feature. Where a gable end wall extends as high, as the competed coat of thatch; which butts against it.

Masonry Ridge: Where the apex of a Standard thatch is covered by a layer of mortar. Clay and mud being used in the past. See Ridge.

Medium Reed: A Grade of Water Reed. Which consists of bundles of longish reed, with some taper. Used in Straightwork. See Coarse Reed and Fine Reed.

Mowing: In the pre mechanical age; the act of cutting crops with a Scythe. See Reaping and Haulm.

Multilayered: A thatched roof, with more than one layer of competed Coatwork. Which acts as a base for further layers. These being fixed into position by Thatching Spars. These roofs can be of great age. See Smoke Blackened Thatch and Single Layered.

N
eedle: Thatching tool. A long metal pin, with a hole at the pointed end. Used to tie on Courses of thatch Coatwork. See Tarred Twine.

Needled Thatching: A thatching method, found on Orkney. Consisting of a layer of Random Thatching, held in place by a complete covering of straw rope; called Simmons here; both below and above the random layer.

Nitch: The Devon name, for a bundle of Combed Wheat Reed. Formally applied to the 28lb (12.6 kg), hand combed bundle of wheat reed, once used in the West Country. See Hand Comb, Reed Comber and Reed Press

Norfolk Reed: The name for Water Reed, hailing from the Norfolk Broads. Traditionally consisting of Standard Sized bundles or Bunches. But a name often used to describe material, from other locations. See Fathom and Long Fathom.

Northern Tradition: Term used to describe an area, with a distinctive traditional thatching style. The largest of all the stylistic areas, uses the Standard method of thatching, with an angular finish. Mortar, Tile, Timber and Turf, as well as Straw, are used as ridging materials. And the use of Boarded Gables; along with the historical use of the Stobbing method, also sets this area apart. These characteristics are found in Scotland, in areas away from the Highland Traditions. In most parts of Wales and Ireland. And in Northern England, as far south as Shropshire and Leicestershire. And shares some details with the craft in Denmark.

O
at Straw: Thatching material. The stems of avena sativa..

Office: (Eaves) A term from South West England. The overhanging bottom edge of a roof. Made up of tied bundles of thatch when constructed of cereal straw. See Wadd and Bottle.

Open up: The process of lifting up and out, the edges of the previous completed strip, of Standard Coatwork. Thus enabling the following courses to slide partly under the old. Creating a seamless join.

Ornamental Block Ridge; A type of ridge finish. Which utilises a Skirt of thatch, to create a decorative edge to a ridge. There are a multitude of designs. The earliest following a Saw Tooth pattern. See Straight Block Ridge and Block Finish.

Overstood: Stools of Coppiced hazel that have grown too large, for use as Gadds.

P
inicale; Ornate end to a Wrap Over Ridge, found in the Eastern Tradition of thatching.

Pole ladder: The traditional ladder, used in the craft, often thirty feet (9m) long. Made from both sides, of a sawn of split wooden pole.

Pollard: A tree, often willow, regularly cut, some way off the ground. To stop foraging animals from eating the new growth. Gadds are often a product of such trees. See Coppiced.

Pone: (Scraw) A Name from Northern Scotland, for a piece of shaped Turf, often used as an overlapping underlayer, to the Directional Thatching used here.

Prick; (Thatching Spar) A term used, in Warwickshire and Northamptonshire, for a Spar.

Principal Rafter: (A Frame) The largest timbers, in a normal roof construction. These upright timbers sit on the Wall Plates and rest against the Ridge Board. And carry the Purlins and Common Rafters. Traditionally spaced 16 feet (4.8m) apart, forming a Bay. See Cruck Construction.

Purlins: Large horizontal roof timbers, resting on the Principal Rafters or A Frames. On which are fixed the Common Rafters.

Q
uarter Hipped End: A Turning Feature, Where the top quarter of the roof slope is carried around the end of a building. See Full Hipped End, Half Hipped End and Hiplet.

R
aised Crucks: An early form of roof construction. In which pairs of naturally curved Crucks, Highland Couples or Curved tree Principals, carried the weight of the roof; down to a low wall. (As opposed to using Principal Rafters or A Frames.) Often set 16 feet (4.8m) apart, to form a Bay. See Cruck Construction.

Random Thatching Method: A type of thatching, where the material is thickly applied in a random way. Without definite layers. And is fixed from the outside, traditionally by roping. A method associated with the Outer Hebrides. But was once practiced in parts of Wales. See Standard Thatching and Directional Thatching.

Reaping: In the pre mechanical age; the act of cutting crops with a Reaping Hook or Sickle. See Haulm and Mowing and Self Binding Reaper.

Reed: An informal name for Water Reed or Norfolk Reed. Or, if in the West Country, Combed Wheat Reed.

Reeding Pin: A hand tool. A metal pin around 18 inches (450mm) in length. Used to hold the edge of a Course of material in place, whilst thatching. In the past, often made of wood.

Reedwise: A term given to Standard Coatwork; where the thatching material has the bottom or butt ends all in one direction. As is the case with Water Reed and Combed Wheat Reed thatching. See Long Straw (2).

Reed Comber: An attachment to a Thrasher. That allows cereal straw to be thrashed, without damaging the stems. Used to produce Combed Wheat Reed. See Reed Press and Hand Comb.

Reed Press: A wooden frame, that keeps cereal straw under pressure. Allowing the straight stems be pulled out. In a process called Drawing. Formally used to produce Combed Wheat Reed. See Reed Comber and Hand Comb.

Repairwork; A form of Directional Thatching. The art of repairing a worn coat, of old Standard thatching. See Slice.

Resparred: The replacement of any external Sparwork, during the life of a thatch. Sedge Ridges, are often done thus.

Rick: (Stack) A constructed mound of straw, hay or a cereal crop. Formally covered with Rickthatching. See Skru.

Rickthatching: A form of Directional Thatching. The former art of protecting carefully built Stacks or Ricks. Mainly of hay, straw or cereal crops. See Domestic Thatching.
Ridge: The apex of a Standard thatched roof. which is generally covered, by a ridge of cereal straw or Sedge Grass. But ridges of Timber, Turf, Tile and Masonry, are all to be found in Britain.

Ridge Board: Roof timber at the apex. On to which rest the Principal Rafters or A Frames and the Common Rafters. The first Ridge Roll is also fixed to this.

Ridge Chimney: A Straight Feature. Where a chimney is found in the apex of a roof, away from any Gable ends. See Eaves Chimney and Gable End Chimney.

Ridge Roll; (Dolly) Long thin bundle of tied material. Added as the ridge is built up; to create both thickness and Springing or Kick.

Right Hand Turning Gable: A Turning Feature. Where the thatch swings out over a right hand Gable end wall. See Left Hand Turning Gable and Hidden Length.

Riving: The art of splitting Gadds. To produce Spars, Liggers and Ledgers.

Rod: (Wand or Ligger) A spit wooden stick, of hazel or willow. Used in conjunction with Thatching Spars. To hold down the Ridge, any Repairwork and the edges of Long Straw roofs.

Rolled Gable: A Straight Feature, Where the thatcher completes a Gable end, whilst keeping the thatching material straight. And not butting it up, against a masonry or wooden edge. See Masonry Gable and Boarded Gable.

Rood; An old measurement of 171/4 feet squared; giving an area of 297 sq feet (27sq metres); or just under three Squares.

Roof Battens: (Battens) Small horizontal roof timbers. Which are fixed to the Common Rafters. When used on a thatched roof these should have dimensions of at least 2 by 1 inches (50x25mm). The distance between them, varies with the type of thatching material used. A Liner is then laid against these.

Running Foot/ Metre: The unit of measurement, used to describe a complete ridge, on both sides of a thatch roof.

Rush Common: The stems of the family. juncus…

Rye straw: Thatching material. The stems of secale cereale…

S
addle: A thatching Feature. Created when lower thatch roofs join into higher main ones; at right angles.

Saw Tooth Ridge: An early type of Ornamental Block Ridge. Which utilises a Skirt of thatch, to create a decorative ‘saw tooth’ edge to a ridge. A type of finish, that dates well back into the nineteenth century.

Scob: (Spar, Broach, Scollop or Thatching Spar) A common Scottish name for the a Spar.

Scollop: (Scob, Spar, Broach or Thatching Spar) A term used in Wales, for a Spar.

Scoub: One of the names from Yorkshire, for a Spar.

Scraw: (Pone) A Name from Northern Scotland, for a piece of shaped Turf, often used as an overlapping underlayer, to the Directional Thatching used here.

Second Whale Reed: Water Reed, that has been harvested, on an biannual cutting cycle. See First Whale Reed.

Sedge Grass: Thatching material. The stems of cladium mariscus…

Sedge Ridge: A Wrapover Ridge, nearly always with an Ornamental Block finish; consisting of Sedge Grass. Mainly found, in the eastern counties of England. Its long life means that it is often Resparred.

Self Binding Reaper; (Binder) A machine, used to harvest cereal crops for thatch. Which cuts, collects and ties up the bundles of unthrashed sheaves. See Stooking Up, Reaping and Sickle.

Sett: (Course) A layer of Standard Thatching. Running horizontally across the roof. See also Brow Course, Levelling Course or Top Sett.

Shear Out Ridge: (Flush finish) A Ridge detail. Where the bottom edge of the ridge forms a seamless join, into the top of the Coatwork. An effect often created with a Shear Hook. See Block Finish.

Shear Hook: Thatching Tool. Consisting of a large curved hook. Used with Combed Wheat Reed to trim the finished Coatwork. Also used to trim a Shear Out or Flush Finish ridge.

Short Eaves Knife: Thatching Tool. A shorter version of the Long Eaves Knife. Used to trim Long Straw Eaves and the over sailing tops of Water Reed. See Eaves Hook.

Shove: A traditional name, for a bundle of Sedge Grass; weighing 7 pounds (3kgs).

Sickle: A hook, with a serrated cutting edge. Used in the pre mechanical age; to harvest cereal crops, by Reaping. See Haulm, Mowing and Self Binding Reaper.

Side rake: Thatching Tool. A rake, with wide teeth and handle, running along the same piece of wood. Used in cleaning and Dressing, Long Straw Coatwork.

Simmons: The local Orkney name for straw rope. Something of a thatching speciality, on these islands. See Needled

Single Layered: A term, used to describe either a new roof; or an old one, that has been previously stripped off. The thatch being now fixed, directly onto the roof timbers. Consisting of a single layer of Coatwork. See Multilayered, Crook and Tarred Twine.

Skew: (Masonry Gable or Watertable) A Straight Feature, a term from Scotland. Where a Gable end wall extends as high, as the competed coat of thatch; which butts against it. These often consist of Crow Steps and were often protected by Turf.

Skirt: A Layer of thatching material; added to a Ridge. From which either a Straight or Ornamental Block finish, is cut.

Skru: A term from Shetland; for a small round thatched stack. Of hay, or cereal straw.

Slice: Thatching tool. Formally used to lift up and separate, the Courses in a Standard thatch. Thus enabling some Repairwork material, to be easily thrust up between them.

Small end: The top, or narrower end, of a long straw Yealm. see Large End.

Smoke Blackened Thatch: Old layers of Coatwork, that have been exposed to the soot of an open fire. Often dating to the Middle Ages. A unique source of historical information, about a roof and it’s location. See Multilayered.

South Western Tradition: Term used to describe an area, with a distinctive traditional thatching style. This area is unique, in it’s use of combed thatch. Known as Combed Wheat Reed. Ridges often have an attractive pointed end. The result of using this as a ridging material. A curved shape is shared with the Southern Tradition. Along with the Standard method of thatching. This area covers The Vale of Glamorgan, Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and western Dorset. Along with the Channel Islands, and neighbouring areas of France.

Southern Tradition: Term used to describe an area, with a distinctive traditional thatching style. The large overhang to both Gables and Eaves; along with the curved roof shape, are the distinctive parts of the Standard thatching found here. Liggers, along the edges of the roof, recall the former dominance of Long Straw. The historical use of this material, sets this area apart from the South Western Tradition. This area runs in an arc, from Kent to Warwickshire. Extending as far west as Wiltshire and parts of Dorset.

Spar: (Broach, Scob, Scollop or Thatching Spar) A split and pointed length of wood, usually hazel or willow. Which is twisted in the middle, and used to hold down thatching material.

Sparwork: The wooden Spars and Liggers found on the outside of a thatch. See Resparred.

Spar Coat: Coatwork fixed on by Thatching Spars. See Multilayered and Spar Thatching.

Spar Hook: A small billhook. Used to split wooden Gadds; and point the resulting
sections of wood to make either Spars, Liggers or Sways.

Spar Thatching: The method of fixing Courses, with Thatching Spars. Creating a Spar Coat.

Sparrod: A name for a Spar, from the Isle of Wight.

Sparrow: A term, used in the county of Surrey, for a Spar.

Speet: A Lincolnshire name, for a Spar.

Spelk: A term used in Northern England, for a Spar.

Spit: A name from Cambridgeshire; for a Spar.

Spree: A term used in Berkshire, for a Spar.

Springle: A Derbyshire term for a Spar.

Springing: (Kick) The tension in a Course of standard thatching. Caused by straight thatching material being fixed down, onto a dished surface. Is created in various parts of the roof, by Backfilling, Ridge Rolls or Dollys. Springing Rolls, Arris Rail or Facia Board.

Springing Rolls: Long, smallish rolls, of tied thatching material. Used to create Springing or Kick. After the same manner as a Facia Board or a Tilting Fillet or Arris Rail.

Square: The traditional unit of measurement; for describing the area of a thatch roof. Equalling 100 square feet (9.25 sq metres).

Stack: (Rick) A constructed mound of straw, hay or a cereal crop. Formally covered with Rickthatching. See Skru

Standard Size: A traditionally sized, bundle or Bunch of Water Reed, from Norfolk. Which is 24 inches (600mm) in circumference; when measured 12 inches (300mm) up from the butt end. See Fathom and Long Fathom.

Standard Thatching Method: The most commonly used method of thatching a roof, both in Britain and around the world. The method consists of laying Courses of material, which overlap each other. In doing so, they cover and hide the Fixing, that holds each course in place. Thus only the final Levelling Course shows it’s Line of Fixing. This is covered and protected, by a separate Ridge. See Directional and Random methods.

Straw Bond: Found in Spar Thatching, where it replaces a Sway or Ledger. It is formed by pieces of straw, pulled from under a fixed Spar. Which are then used to hold down a Course; of either Long Straw or Combed Wheat Reed thatching; as further Spars are fixed down over it. Further strands of straw are then pulled out of the last spar, to form a continuous bond. Creating a Line of Fixing.

Straw Ridge: Term used to describe a thatch, on which the apex has a Ridge, formed of cereal straw. As opposed to a ridge of Mortar, Timber, Tile or Sedge Grass.

Stinger: (Stobstick or Swallowtail) A forked hand tool, used in the Stobbing method of thatching.

Stinging: (Stobbing or Tippeting) A thatching method. In which overlapping, bent handfuls of thatching material, are thrust, into a underlayer. Using a forked hand tool. See Stinger

Stobbing: (Stinging or Tippeting) A thatching method. In which overlapping, bent handfuls of thatching material, are thrust, into a underlayer. Using a forked hand tool. See Stobstick.

Stobstick; (Stinger or Swallowtail) A forked hand tool, used in the Stobbing method of thatching.

Stooking Up: (Hileing Up) The careful standing up and grouping together, of eight or so cereal sheaves, cut by a Self Binding Reaper. In a wind and waterproof manner; so they dry out. Eventually passing through either a Thrasher or Reed Comber.

Stool: A large Coppiced hazel plant. Cut every seven to ten years for Gadds, to create Thatching Spars, Liggers and Ledgers. If left too long becomes Overstood.

Straightwork: An area of Standard thatch Coatwork; that runs straight from eaves to ridge. And thus does not constitute a Feature.

Straight Block ridge; A type of ridge finish. Which utilises a Skirt of thatch, to create a straight raised edge to a ridge. See Ornamental Block Ridge and Block Finish.

Straight Eyebrow Window: A Straight Feature. A window that sits either on a Wallplate, or is set into the top of a wall. Designed to be covered by thatch, which does not turn from the straight. See Turning Eyebrow Window.

Straight Dormer window: A Straight Feature. A window that lies entirely within the roof structure. Designed to be covered by thatch, which does not turn from the straight. See Turning Dormer Window.

Straight Feature: One of a group of Features. In which a section of the Coatwork, of a Standard thatch, does not run cleanly from ridge to eaves. And can contain: Straight Eyebrow and Dormer Windows, Eaves and Ridge Chimneys, Vent Pipes, Masonry, Rolled and Boarded Gables. All of which do not require the thatcher, to turn the thatching material away from a straight line. They do not mix well, with any Turning Feature.

Stubble: (Haulm) Not the short stems, seen in a modern harvest field; but a term from the Middle Ages onwards. For the long stubble, left after Reaping a cereal crop. This useful thatching material, was then harvested by Mowing.

Swallowtail: (Stobstick or Stinger) A term from Yorkshire, for the forked hand tool; used in the Stobbing method of thatching.

Sway: (Ledger) A length of split wood, around 5 feet (1.5m) long. Used with metal Crooks; to hold down a Course of thatching material, directly onto the roof timbers. See Line of Fixing.

T
arred Twine: A Fixing. Thread, impregnated with Stockholm Tar. Formally used to tie on courses of Coatwork, onto a Single Layered roof; with a Needle.

Tekk: The name, used in Shetland, for Oat Straw.

Thack: An old dialect term for thatch. Widely used from Southern Scotland, well down into the Midlands.

Thatcher’s Horse: (Biddle or Thatcher‘s Square ) A wooden frame with pair of spikes set in the top. These are pushed into the Coat; allowing the thatcher to climb up and over them; extending their reach. Found mainly in South West Britain. See Hanger.

Thatcher’s Square: (Biddle or Thatcher‘s Horse ) The third name in the trio. See Hanger.

Thatching Spar; ( Broach or Spar) The full name, which is rarely used, for a Spar.

Thrasher; A mobile machine, that removes the grain from cereal sheaves. The resulting straw being Long Straw. Can be fitted with a Reed Comber, to produce Combed Wheat Reed. See Flail.

Thraw crook: (Whimble) A term from Scotland, for a form of hand crank, used to make twisted straw rope.

Thrave: One of which, equals two dozen. An old name, for twenty four bundles or sheaves; of wheat or thatch.

Timber ridge: Where the apex of a Standard thatch is covered by timber boarding, fixed to a wooden frame. See Ridge.

Tiled Ridge: Where the apex of a Standard thatch is covered by large ridge tiles, set in a layer of mortar. See Ridge.

Tilting fillet: (Arris Rail) A triangular strip of wood, attached to a roof’s Wall Plate. Providing uplift; or Springing or Kick, to the Eaves of a thatch.

Tippeting: (Stinging or Stobbing) A term, from North East Scotland. For a thatching method. In which overlapping, bent handfuls of thatching material, the tippets; are thrust, into a underlayer. Using a forked hand tool. See Stobstick and Stinger.

Top sett: (Levelling course) The final Course, or Sett of Standard thatching. Usually fixed all around the roof in one operation. Covering the second Ridge Roll and levelling up the apex of the thatch, ready for the Ridge.

Turf: A multifunctional thatching material. Usually consisting of heather. Mostly found as an underlayer and covering for a Ridge. See Divot, Scraw, Pone and Flaughter Spade.

Turf Ridge: Where the apex of a Standard or Directional thatch, is covered by pieces or Divots of Turf. Usually with the ‘grass side’ uppermost. A type of ridging, that once was very common, from the Midlands northwards. See Ridge.

Turn Over Ridge: (Wrap Over Ridge) A Ridge type. Where the final layer of material, is wrapped over the apex of the Ridge. See Butts Up Ridge.

Turning Eyebrow Window: A Turning Feature. A window that sits either on a Wallplate, or is set into the top of a wall. Designed to be covered by thatch, which turns from the straight. To form a small distinct roof, above the window. See Straight Eyebrow Window.

Turning Dormer Window: A Turning Feature. A window that lies entirely within the roof structure. Designed to be covered by thatch, which turns from the straight. To form a small distinct roof, above the window. See Straight Dormer Window.

Turning Feature: One of a group of Features. In which a section of the Coatwork, of a Standard thatch, does not run cleanly from ridge to eaves. And can contain: Right and Left Hand Turning Gables, Full Hipped Ends, Half Hipped Ends, Quarter Hipped Ends, Hiplets, Valleys, and any circular roofs. All of which require the thatcher, to turn the thatching material away from a straight line. They do not mix well, with any Straight Feature.

U
phill: A term, used to describe the correct angle at which a Thatching Spar should be driven. So that rainwater runs off any exposed part of it.

V
alley: A Turning Feature. Created where two roofs join at right angles.

Vent Pipe: A Straight Feature. A pipe inserted into a roof, to allow sewer gases to discharge safely.

Verge: (Barge or Gable ) A thatching Feature. Which covers a wall, forming the end of a roof. See Masonry Gable, Boarded Gable, Left hand Turning Gable, Right Hand Turning Gable and Rolled Gable.

W
add: A small tied bundle of Combed Wheat Reed, used to create the Eaves of a thatch. See Bottle.

Wall Plate: Timbers, set on the top of a wall. On to which a roof is constructed. See Principal Rafters, Common Rafters, Arris Rail and Facia Board.

Wand: (Ligger or Rod) A spit wooden stick, of hazel or willow. Used in conjunction with Thatching Spars. To hold down the Ridge, any Repairwork and the edges of Long Straw roofs.

Water Reed; Thatching material. The stems of phragmites australis… See Norfolk Reed

Watertable: (Skew or Masonry Gable) A Straight Feature. Where a Gable end wall, extends as high as the competed coat of thatch; which butts against it. These are often found in areas with good building stone. And consist of well formed, overlapping stone slabs.

Wheat Straw: The most widely used cereal straw thatch. Mostly the stems of bread wheat; tritcum aestivum…

Wherry: Small boat, often used to transport thatching materials, off the Norfolk Broads.

Whimble: (Thraw crook) A form of hand crank, used to make twisted straw rope.

Whin: (Broom) The Scottish name, for this thatching material. Where the heads of cytisus scoparius, are now mainly used.

Withy-neck: A term, used in the North of England, for a Spar.

Witch’s seat: A term from the Channel Islands. For a large flat stone set in a chimney. Designed to throw rainwater, away from the thatch below.

Wrapover Ridge: (Turn Over Ridge) A Ridge type. Where the final layer of material, is wrapped over the apex of the Ridge. See Butts Up Ridge.

Y
ard Spars: Term given to extra long thatching spars, used in Rickthatching. These were often longer than a yard (900mm).

Yealm: From the Old English for ‘handful‘. A prepared amount of Long Straw, ready to be laid. See Yealming and Yoke.

Yealming: The process of creating Yealms, from prepared Bed of Long Straw. See Large End and Small End.

Yoke: (Jack or Groom) A forked stick, used to carry a Burden of Yealms on to a roof.

B

elow are some thatching terms, from the other native languages. Found to a lesser or greater extent, in Britain. As these are much fewer in number, I have only cross referenced them with the main listing.

T

he Dialect of the Channel Islands… The island of origin, is in brackets.

Battre: To Thrash. See Flail. (Guernsey)

Couvraeux; Thatcher. (Guernsey)

Gllic: Thatch. (Guernsey)

Gllieur: Thatcher. (Guernsey)

Gluyaux: Small, reusable bundles of thatch. Used to cover ricks. See Rickthatching.
(Jersey)

Glyi: Thatch (Jersey)

Tas: Rick. See Rickthatching. (Guernsey)

Tasseur: Rickthatcher. (Guernsey)

T

he Language of Cornwall….

Eage: A Directional coat of thatch, usually on a Rick.

Teyz: Thatch also a Roof, suggesting they were one and the same for a long time.

Toen: A Thatcher.

Zoul: Thatch.

T

he Language of Wales….

Belysan: The term, for a bundle of thatch, from South East Wales.

Bwch: A term, from Mid and North Wales; for a stook of sheaves. See Stooking Up.

Corsen: Water Reed.

Dyrnu: To thrash, with a Flail.

Gawn: (Combed Wheat Reed) Uncrushed, hand combed straw.

Gwaith: The craft of thatching.

Gwellt Ceirch: Oat Straw.

Gwellt Gwenith: Wheat Straw.

Gwellt Haidd: Barley Straw.

Gwrach: A Ridge Roll, often made of Bracken.

Gwrachod: A tied underlayer of thatch.

Mwdwl: A conical rick. See Rickthatching.

Pendo: The term, for a bundle of thatch, from South West Wales.

Pric: A thatching spar.

Rhaff Toi: A Rope, used to secure thatch.

Sgolpyn: A term from South East Wales, for a thatching spar.

Stwc: A stook of sheaves See Stooking Up.

Tas: A rick. See Rickthatching.

To: A thatched roof.

T’o’en: A bundle of thatch.

T’o’wr: A thatcher.

Tobren: (Stobstick, Stinger or Swallowtail) A forked hand tool, used in the Stobbing method of thatching.

Tusw: A handful of straw, tied at the top, used in the Stobbing method of Thatching. Pushed into place with the Tobren.

T

he Gaelic tongue of Scotland…

Coirce: Oats.

E’orna: Barley.

Fodar: Straw.

Fraoch: Heather or Ling.

Maide Feannaig: (Crow Stick) A stout wooden stick fixed in the ridge end; from which the roping around a Hipped End is fixed. To hold either Directional or Random thatching.

M’athair Sh’ioman. Main Rope. Used when roping thatch. A good sized rope that runs all round the roof, around 30 inches (750mm), up from the wallhead or Tobhta. To this all other roping is fixed.

Mullach Tuchaidh: A thatched roof.

Sgragh: Turf.

Sgrath Mhullaich: Ridge Turf. A long piece of Turf, used to cover the apex of the roof timbers. When applying a turf undercoat, before covering with thatch.

Suganain: Straw or Heather rope.

Taigh Dubh: A Blackhouse. The older type of Highland dwelling. With a hipped roof. And with either a Lum, or no chimney. Often thatched, using the Random Method.

Taigh Geal: A Whitehouse. A more modern type of cottage. Normally with Gable Chimneys, and windows. Often coated, using Directional thatching.

Tobhta: The top a house wall. Or Wallhead.

Tugh: Thatch.

Tughadh: A thatcher.

Tughadh: The craft of thatching.

F

inally a couple of Gaelic proverbs…

Is tr’om sn’ithe air tigh gun tughadh… Rain drops come heavy, on a house unthatched.

Tigh a tughadh gun a sh’iomaineachadh… Thatching a house without roping it. (Is to surely labour in vain!)