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Salt marsh architecture. Catalogue, technology and typological development of early medieval turf buildings in the northern coastal area of the Netherlands.

By D. (Daniel) Postma


This Ma thesis presents an in-depth investigation of early medieval turf buildings (zodengebouwen) in the coastal region of the northern Netherlands (terp region). The main objective is to establish a reliable reconstruction proposal for a so-called Leens type building. This requires a reinterpretation of published ground plans, an analysis of traditional building methods and a discussion of typological developments. Central to the research is a catalogue of turf buildings from the first millennium AD, excavated in Groningen, Friesland and North-Holland. The ground plans provide information on the construction and use of these buildings, but their interpretation is not without difficulty. Traditional buildings in Iceland and Scotland provide important analogies which help to interpret the archaeological remains from the Netherlands. The research leads to radical new insights in turf construction and the type of timber inner structure used in early medieval buildings. In addition, surprising conclusions are reached on the presence of lofts and gables, the pitch of thatched roofs, the layout of byres and the function of buildings which would normally be interpreted as longhouses. The thesis brings together a lot of information on a subject which has hardly received any attention in archaeological research to this date. It demonstrates the academic potential of settlement archaeology in the terp region and the effects it may have on the study of ancient architecture in the entire North Sea region. Points of attention are included for the benefit of future research.

Year: 2011
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