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YAC Staff Activity: Mini Roundhouses Aims To provide YAC groups with no outdoor space/little money etc with an activity to look at how roundhouses were constructed NB: All Leaders will be having a go at building a larger, out-door roundhouse on Saturday afternoon Location In the roundhouse area (if dry) in the marquee (if wet) Timings 25 minutes (if 1st activity in the block) 30 minutes (if 2nd activity in the block) Activity Outline 2 minutes: Send Leaders off to look at Butser roundhouses to see if they can quickly work out the construction materials and methods used. 3 minutes: Feedback on findings and explain you’re going to look at how to replicate this on a small scale, indoors and for little cost. Explain all information is on a sheet in their packs including any templates needed. 5 minutes: Discuss materials required, where you can source them, issues regarding authenticity of materials and elements of task that need pre-preparing in order for activity to work safely (see overleaf). Also mention that if doing this as an activity they will need longer than 2 hours and may want to split the construction over two sessions. They will also need some way of introducing the idea of roundhouses. For example, they could start by looking at photographs of roundhouses and getting the members to do what we did at the start with them e.g. looking at the pictures for evidence of materials used, construction techniques etc. 10 minutes (if first activity in block) 15 minutes (if second activity in block): Get them looking at the pre-prepared kits we’ve brought with us and the ‘How to build a mini- roundhouse’ sheet in their packs. Some can wattle, some can daub, some can add a roof and some can add thatch. There is one, part constructed roundhouse, one, part wattled roundhouse and six other kits that can be put together. Each new group can add to what the previous group has done; the first group on Saturday will only be able to wattle, add a roof or thatch. 5 minutes: Briefly discuss kit with more holes drilled in it. We did this as we thought the eight uprights might be too far apart. It was harder to wattle and didn’t make much difference to the wall construction but potentially having more uprights could be easier for constructing the roof and thatching. They might want to get their members experimenting with different upright arrangements. Cover any questions and reset activity for next group. NB: There will be a five minute change over period between the sessions in each block and a fifteen minute gap between each hour block. How to make a mini-roundhouse! You will need: * MDF board 30cm x 30cm and approx 8mm thick (B&Q cut it to size for free for us) or clay slab rolled out to 30cm by 30cm and approx. 4 cm thick * Drill (if using MDF) * Greaseproof paper (if using clay base) * Rolling pin (if using a clay base) * Hole positioning template (see pack) * 10mm dowel rod for uprights (1 roundhouse will use 96cm of dowel for pegs if using eight uprights, each12cm in length) * 8mm dowel rod for roof structure (1 roundhouse will use approx. 200cm) * Hacksaw * Hammer (optional but our pegs needed a bit of a whack!) * Glue to hold dowel uprights in place firmly * Twigs to make struts in-between roof beams (we used twigs picked up in our garden) * Twine for binding (bought from garden centre) * Scissors for cutting twine * Willow or hazel lengths for wattle walls (we used about ten, metre long lengths of willow, this was pinched from a neighbour’s garden but you can occasionally buy it on-line very cheaply from the Unique Scrapstore www.uniquescrapstore.com/ 12p per withie) * Clay for daub (you could add straw for authenticity! Air drying clay is available from art/craft shops or on-line from Unique Scrapstore, see above) * Raffia or similar material for the roof thatching (we found that a 500g bundle of raffia covered one section of roof between two beams if tied into smaller bundles. Raffia can be found in art/craft shops and some garden centres) Pre-preparation * If using an MDF base you will need to drill the holes before the meeting or do it at the meeting for them * Cut the 10mm dowel into eight 12cm lengths * Cut the 8mm dowel into lengths long enough for your roof structure (you might want to have a Leader do this at the meeting so that you can discuss how much over-hang they think there should be etc) * You may need to soak the willow/hazel lengths overnight to ensure that they are flexible Method See pictures overleaf also 1. If you are using a clay base rather than a MDF base, get the members to role out on greaseproof paper a square slab 30cm by 30cm and approx. 4 cm thick; using greaseproof paper will stop it drying to the table top and make it easier to transport! 2. For those using a clay base put the template over the top of the rolled out slab and push a pencil through where each hole should be. 3. Insert the pre-cut upright dowels into the MDF or clay base; add a little glue to make them more sturdy. 4. Whilst you’re waiting for the glue to harden discuss how they will make the walls of their roundhouse. What materials could have been used in the past and what makes them suitable e.g. how will they keep the roundhouse warm and dry? 5. Discuss wattle and daub walls, which bit is which? Look at willow/hazel lengths why is this better than other types of sticks/wood? How will it be possible to fasten the willow/hazel when starting and finishing a length? 6. Demonstrate how to weave the willow in and out of the uprights. Weave your wall but leave about 3cm at the top of the upright sticking out; this is where the roof will join on. Remember to leave space for a doorway! 7. Daub the walls, discuss why material such as straw was added to the daub; you may want to wait for the daub to dry before adding the roof. 8. Discuss the roof of a roundhouse. How do they think people in the past would have done this? Practice lashing together some pieces of dowel to see how they’ll need to tie on their roof beams and struts. Discuss the problem of an actual roundhouse being taller! 9. Add the roof by lashing the beams to the upright poles. Lash the poles together where they meet in the centre. Lash the struts in-between the beams, discuss why these are necessary e.g. they give stability and allow thatch to be tied on. 10. Discuss how they think the thatch should be applied i.e. how will it be held in place, should you start at the top or bottom? We found it best to tie the raffia into small bundles and then, working from the bottom up, tie these bundles onto the beams and struts. 11. You may want to discuss the idea of a chimney. This has caused debate amongst archaeologists as no evidence exists! It is now thought that no chimney opening was left and that smoke escapes through the thatch and doorway. 12. You may want to ‘test’ your handy work! You could finish off by placing a sponge inside the roundhouse, pouring a known quantity of water over the roundhouse to simulate rain fall and then squeezing out your sponge to see how much got through! Pictures Step 3 Step 6 Step 9 NB: To make the pictures clearer we tied on some of the roof beams before we added the wattle but you will obviously add the wattle first! Step 10 NB: Your wattle walls will be higher when you add your thatch and will also probable be daubed!
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