The ‘Northern’ Tradition of British Thatching

The Northern Tradition is the largest by far, of the five stylistic areas. It shares much with the Eastern tradition, with differences created by an historical lack of cereal straw…In recent times much of it’s distinctiveness has been lost, as purely Eastern thatching materials and styles, have taken over. In such a large area there is inevitably some historic variation, in materials and types of ridging.

The use of turf, for a base and as ridging; becomes more common, in the north and west of this area. Heather and long straw of various cereal types, are the historic coating materials. Coatwork is either of the standard type, or uses the stobbing method of fixing; although the latter method is rarely seen today. Roofs have a fairly angular shape and gables are mainly rolled, masonry or boarded; with a few turned examples further south. Mortar and timber, as well as turf are the usual ridging materials in the north. Straw is more common in the south and west.

Thus the historical use of the stobbing method. Along with the widespread use of wooden boarded gables and ridging, in other materials than straw or sedge grass; sets this area apart…

thatch scotland

thatch nottinghamshire

Northern thatch… Some variations, as to gable ends and ridging. But the thatch in the two above photos have much in common… The upper image, was taken at ‘The Scottish National Exhibition’, held in Glasgow, in 1911. Both these newly constructed roofs follow the northern style. The left one consisting of a Tay water reed roof, with a boarded gable and ridged with timber. The cottage in the background, has a roof of long straw, edged and ridged with turf. With a little crook and caber work, to fix the eaves. Two purely Highland thatches were also on show here. Showing the organisers knew of the differing types of thatch, found in Scotland. The lower image, from the same period, shows thatching further south, in Nottinghamshire at Wilford. This example has a boarded gable and is ridged with turf. Today, the gable finish is still found hereabouts, but the turf ridging has retreated further north.

Below are some images of the areas covered, in the 15 following sub pages…