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36 CURVED TREE I’RINCIPALS [CH.

he has no evidence for its use East and South of a line drawn
from the Wash to the Bristol Channel, with the exception of
certain secluded hilly districts. This may be due either to Celtic
influence, or, more probably, because the West and North were the
most backward parts of the country in culture, and methods of
construction were used there after they had been discarded by the
builders of the South and East.

We have seen that in Cumberland and in High Furness the
curved principals are called ‘siles.’ In Cumberland they are also
named ‘ sile-blades’ and ‘sile-trees,’ and the same terms are used
in Scotland. ‘Sile’ is a widespread Teutonic word, meaning
‘ column,’ and indicates that they were regarded as variants of the
upright timber posts of the Germanic lands, just as the inclined posts
were in Jutland. The use of the word in the North of England is
as old as the fourteenth century, for the Dar/mm Halmote Roi/51
show that in the year 1364—5 one William Smith agreed to put up
some buildings on a farm which he had taken at Nun-Stainton,
and that the said William should have large timber in the wood
of Aclay for six pairs of siles, ribs and firsts (‘pro vi paribus de
scilles, rybys, et firstis’). Earlier than this is an entry in the
Dar/mm Account Rolls2 of 1338—40, which speaks of seven couples
of siles 16 feet in length and four couples of siles 28 feet in length.

These curved timbers have other names in the North country
dialects. In Northumberland and Durham they are known as
levers, a word descended from Middle English. In the Finchale
Priory Accounts there is a record of a payment, in the year
1481—2, for timber bought for a lever in the tenement of Robert
Jackson".

It has been shown that the upright post with a forked end was
called a fork, and in Durham, and in North Yorkshire, a pair of the
ordinary bent tree principals is known as a ‘ pair of forks,’ so that
each timber is considered to be a fork, which gives some indication
of the descent of the curved pair of posts from one upright post.
The word ‘ fork’ is found in English literature and in documents.
Tusser, a rhyming agricultural writer of the sixteenth century,
says, ‘ Let make an hous for beastis of forkis and boorde’: and
the Book (Liber) of the Abbot of Glastonbury of the year 1189

1 p. 34. The Halmote Rolls have been published by the Surtees Society.
2 II, p. 377. These Rolls have also been published by the Surtees Society.
3 Priory quz'm/zale, p. ccclv. Also published by the Surtees Society.

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