New Roundhouse: Reed Picking

Although not strictly part of the construction of the new Roundhouse, the task of picking water reeds for thatch was such a momentous task that it deserves its own section.

Just as we started to consider being worried about obtaining our preferred roofing material of water reed, the National Wetland Centre Wales in Penclawdd came to our rescue. With 200 acres of wetlands and over 20 acres of that being water reeds which needed cutting, we were destined to meet. We cannot thank them enough.

After an initial visit to check out the task ahead, we appealed for extra voulunteers and set to work. The reeds are cut by hand with sickles and bundled either before or after being carried out of the reed-beds. Much of the work was done in atrocious weather and and up to our knees in marsh water so not the cleanest or easiest job but even gale-force winds and hailstorms won't stop the Roundhouse Project! Our grateful thanks to the many people who travelled and slaved so many times to help.

Unfortunately, and despite the best efforts of everyone, it was an impossible task to collect enough reeds to thatch the entire roof cone. In fact, although we did manage to cut a large amount of reed, that was only enough to do two layers around the house, and the rest had to be bought in. This shows how extensive and essential the reed growing and cutting activities of the Iron Age must have been.

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•Reed Picking Gallery
More pictures of our efforts picking the reeds

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See the difference between the old and new  

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