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(VVright-Wiilcker Vocabularies). The NOrman-French word for
rafter was ‘chevron’ and the records show that Henry III was
constantly making grants of them to his subjects, and it has
been pointed out that when the king made presents of chevrons,
they were always in multiples of five‘. Originally the rafters were
natural poles, then split poles were used, probably to give a
better hold for the laths, then these were roughly squared, and so
old rafters came to be laid on their flat sides, as the builders knew
nothing of mathematical formulae of the strengths of materials.
In South Yorkshire old roofs with rafters of split poles still remain
and old roofs constructed with natural round poles also; while
in Surrey the rafters of old roofs were either pit sawn or squared
with the adze”.

The operation of joining the beams together is called ‘ knitting
the siles,’ and the fifteenth century Promptorium Parmclorum gives
‘knyttynge or ioynynge or rabatynge to-gedr of ii bordys or
otherlike.’ The principal rafters were known as ‘sile blades’ in
the West of Scotland and as ‘sile trees’ in Cumberland, and the
social gathering at which the principal timbers of a roof were
reared was called the ‘sile raising’ in Westmorland. The principal
rafter is called the ‘back’ in Lancashire".

The beam which runs across the building was generally called
‘ trabs’ in Mediaval Latin, although both ‘ trabs’ and beam have a
somewhat wide meaning, and the word is also translated ‘balk ’ in
the fifteenth century glossaries. ‘Trabecula ’ (literally a little beam),
with the usual varieties of _spelling, is translated ‘bind balk’ and
‘ wind beam ’ in the same glossaries so that the builders of the period
believed that the straining piece or collar, midway between ridge
and tie, served both as a tie and as a strut.

In Germany the cross beams are known as ‘hahnebalken,’ that
is,” fowl beams‘, and in England a similar beam was known as a
‘ perch’ (‘ pertica’)“. The Elizabethan bishop Hall, in his Satires,
described a poor Englishman’s cottage which had ‘his swine
beneath, his pullen o’er the beam“.’

1 G. J. Turner, Select [’lcas oft/1e Forest (Selden Soc.), p. 140.

2 W. Curtis Green, Old Cottages and Farm Home: in Surrey, p. 27.

3 Dictionary of the Architectural Publication Society, 5.2!. Principal Rafter.

4 and W. Grimm, Dcutsc/m Wo'rterbuc/z (‘ der oberste Querbalken unter der
Dachfirst, wo der Haushahn seinen nachtlichen Sitz zu nehmen pflegte ’).

5 S. O. Addy, Evolution oft/1e English Home, p. 50.

5 Bk V, S. l.

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