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218 THATCHING [CI-I.

change from age to age, thatching has undergone the same slow
development as the other crafts from the earliest time up to the
present, and a few years ago there died, in a Leicestershire work-
house, an old thatcher who was called the ‘ king of the thatchers,’
from the improvements which he had introduced into his craft.
Nearly all the continental varieties of thatch are still in use in the
British Islands, a fact which gives to these various methods a
cultural rather than an ethnological significance.

At a cottage at Treeton, South Yorkshire, now occupied by a
workerin a coal-pit, but said to have been formerly the manor-
house of the village, the writer found three different kinds of
thatch. The oldest part of the cottage was built ‘on crucks,’ and it
was covered with straw thatch laid on sods, and held with rods and
broaches, the latter penetrating the sods. The newer part of the
cottage was of the seventeenth or eighteenth century, and covered
with straw thatch, laid on laths and sewn ‘aboute everie sparre’
as described by Henry Best. The whole of the thatch had been
repaired quite recently with a covering of straw fixed in a third
manner, by wires running across it, and twisted round unbent pegs
driven into the older thatch beneath. These three kinds of thatch
were evidently fixed by local thatchers, whose different methods in
different centuries do not imply that they were of different races, but
rather that they improved their methods with the passing years.
If the straw is heaped on the roof without order both in Great
Russia and in Hebridean Lewis, it is not because Gaels and
Russians are the same people, but rather because they are in a
parallel stage of culture, just as, all over the world, prehistoric
man without distinction of race seems to have made tools of stone
long before he made them of metal.

A similar development and change took place with the
thatching methods during the Middle Ages. The churchwardens
of the parish of St Michael, Bath, were the owners of house
property, and the accounts of their expenditure are still in existencel.
As they commence before the middle of the fourteenth century,
they are as old as any which have come down to us. The houses
were usually thatched, and the accounts show that the thatch was
not always of the same materials, and that the varieties of material
run roughly in periods. Before the year 1416 straw and ‘ spykys ’

1 Published in the Proceeding: of Me Somersetsltire A rc/zwologz'cal and Nalural
History Society, 1877-80.

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