Thatching

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Thatching is the craft of building a roof with dry vegetation such as straw, water reed, sedge (Cladium mariscus), rushes and heather, layering the vegetation so as to shed water away from the inner roof. It is a very old roofing method and has been used in both tropical and temperate climates. Thatch is still employed by builders in developing countries, usually with low-cost, local vegetation. By contrast in some developed countries it is now the choice of affluent people who desire a rustic look for their home or who have purchased an originally thatched abode.

Contents

History

The tradition of thatching has been passed down from generation to generation for thousands of years, and numerous descriptions of the materials and methods used in England over the past three centuries survive in archives and early publications.

In equatorial countries thatch is the prevalent local material for roofs, and often walls. There are diverse building techniques from the Hawaiian Hale shelter made from the local ti leaves and pili grass of fan palms to the Na Bure Fijian home with layered reed walls and sugar cane leaf roofs and the Kikuyu tribal homes in Kenya.[1][2] The colonisation of indigenous lands by Europeans greatly diminished the use of thatching.

Thatch has probably been used to cover roofs in Europe since at least the Neolithic period, when people first began to grow cereals. Wild vegetation, especially water reed (Phragmites australis), was probably used before this but no records or archaeological evidence for this have survived ”[3].

Early settlers to the New World used thatch as far back as 1565. Native Americans had already been using thatch for generations. When settlers arrived in Jamestown, Virginia in 1607, they found Powhatan Indians living in houses with thatched roofs. The colonists used the same thatch on their own buildings.[4]

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