Heathlands Roundhouse

Made a visit to heathlands school today to deliver some hurdles for there roundhouse project, the thatch has faded to a lovely grey colour, birds have disturbed some of the thatch around the edges, otherwise looking very good. The chalk walls have not cracked at all, which shows the excellent work of the students in completing the walls.


Shingle / Shake making

Ive been meaning to post this for a while, Learned to make radial split and bastard shingles back in 2008 when I was helping to build the viking longhouse at The Ancient technology centre in Cranborne. I made and attached over 5000 shingles to the roof, this may seem like a lot but there were well over 25000 shingles on that roof. I have since taught two members of the Dorset coppice group (David Ewers and John Sweeny) to make them for the Dark ages build at Upton country park. In theory we can now meet quite large orders if people would like them. £60/m2

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Remove sap wood, this can also be done earlier in the process before splitting with cleave break.


when edge not straight or too thin this should be removed shingles we find a minimum width of 2 inches about right.


P1000151if the source isn’t flat this can be removed either with the axe or a draw knife the axe works better and is faster, best to minimise this as cutting across the grain too much reduces longevity.



Shingles are 40cm long and should overlap by two thirds to make up 1 meter squared we laid ours ours out on a meter square and then piled these shingles up like this 16 layers = 1 meter squared.

Good luck with your shingle / shake making.

If all goes well I will be at the Stock Gaylard woodfair next weekend demonstrating, come and see me at my stand.


Coppicing some notes


Takes advantage of the habit of a broad leaf tree to regrow from the base when cut down during the dormant season either from suckers (elm, blackthorn, white poplar cherry and grey alder) or from the stem. In spring when sap rises the stump (stool, mock) sends up shoots, which are grown on for usually 1-12 years (hazel ash e.t.c) or 10-30 years in the case of chestnut.


  • Straight sticks from coppiced wood used throughout human history
  • Senegalese chimps use spears (selected sharp straight sticks) to hunt bush babies
  • Malle habit of tree regeneration in eucalyptus trees {Australia), coppiced by bushfire
  • Whip stick spears used by local tribes of hunter-gatherers.
  • Earliest definitive example of large-scale use of coppice material in UK Sweet track 3800 BC Somerset coppiced
  • Carried out on a casual basis until the division of woodland for coppice management from 11-13th century, recorded evidence 15th century.

Coppice management

  • Largely coppice and standard arrangement, i. stools 4-6ft apart with canopy of standard trees (Usually Oak and Ash), right balance between stools and standards important. Too many over shade stools giving poor quality rods.
  • Standards grown from maidens (central stems)
  • Cutting understory in rotation (cants, coupes), no less than 0.3 acres and no larger than 3acres.

Over stood coppice

Most coppice woodland is now over stood or of poor quality i.e.no longer cut on a regular rotation.

After 40years this will no longer be useable for coppice products only firewood and charcoal.

As stool density decreases the trees become susceptible to wind blow. Many animals and wildflowers depend on the rotational system. Degradation leads to a decrease in species diversity.


Conservation is the main reason for coppice management in the 21st century, but a variety of traditional products once and still could support a large rural workforce.

Charcoal, gate hurdles, hurdles, faggots, Stick furniture, walking sticks, pea sticks

Well-managed woodland can sustain more people per acre than any modem forestry technique.

How to promote recovery

  • Protect (fence area to prevent deer and rabbit damage)
  • Thinning (reduce number of standards)
  • Increase stool density through layering or stooling and replanting
  • Recut after three years
  • Leave to grow on for seven years


Methods for increasing number of stools




New rooted shoots can be cut below surface and replanted as whips.



Continuous woven fencing

I have recently finished a couple of continuous woven fences which you may be interested in, these fences last for about 7 years depending on the choice of posts and the proportion of split hazel.


The fence below is to hide a hedge during the early stages of its growth.


Build finished at Upton

We have finally finished the build at Upton country park, this has been a wonderful adventure, if a bit pro-tracted. I would like to say a big thank you to all the volunteers who helped out on the project its been an absolute pleasure. It would be remiss of me to forget Poole Museum who commissioned me to project manage this build, thank you for being so accommodating at what has been a difficult time. I look forward to working with you on future projects.

This is amongst a number of different structures I can build for you or your organisation. Please get in touch if you are interested in commissioning a similar project or want to make your dream a reality.