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Thread: Runic Roots of Timber-Framed Construction

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    Senior Member velvet's Avatar
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    Runic Roots of Timber-Framed Construction

    I've read about it some days ago in a book and was a bit surprised. Then again, not really, when I thought a moment about it.
    I looked up some photos of old half-timber houses, but of course it is hard to find some from the 15th century or earlier, where it was more common to use runes for all sorts of things.

    Still, much of the style seems have survived the christian centuries quite undisturbed, even in relatively new houses runes are commonplace. It is of course open to interpretation if the constructor just reused known patterns or still actually intended something with it, but there are also some old houses where the intended use of runes can be savely assumed.

    This image shows Germanic runes and Anglo-Saxon runes. For some runes there are more variants known, which are not shown here but can be explored in the various other threads about runes. Just as a quick reference



    The oldest I have found. It is a bakery house in Kraichgau, built 1412.
    It shows, prominent in the center on the second floor, the Z-rune.


    A house in Bacharach, built 1466. Note the thorns used as decorations, in some regions this was a really common sight. Again the Z-rune direct under the roof, and two times a G-runes pair.


    Haus Zell in Cochem, built originally in the 14th century, only the stone foundation survived. It was rebuilt and extended several times up into the 16th century, and now is moved to an open air museum.
    It has the G-rune under the roof (very uncommon), and a K-rune (the upside-down form of the z-rune) but this stems from the Anglo-Saxon/Nordic runes



    House in Warburg, built 1527. The only runic form here is again set prominent into the center of the front side, it is either an NG-rune or a double TH-rune.


    Haus Enkirch in Bernkastell, built in the 16th/17th century. It is quite a mess of runes to be found here, most likely the builder did not know what he were doing.


    The old town clerks building in Münsingen, built in the 17th century.
    Although it was built quite recently, it shows only runic patterns. Again the Anglo-Saxon K-rune (left and one in the middle right), two G-runes, framed by two U-runes.


    House in Hirzenhain, built 1880. Two G-runes and, under the roof, an upside down turned T-rune. It is weird that this rune doesnt occure more often, it is the rune that represents the world pillar force, so it would absolutely make sense to incorporate that in a building supposed to last generations.


    On almost all of these houses more runes can be found. The U-rune occures almost everywhere, although it could also be just a stabilsation strut. Other patterns could be bind runes (then mainly with the alternate forms of the runes), which would then represent the family name, their occupation or the purpose the building was built for. But bind runes are hard to decipher, therefor I dont dare an interpretation.


    Feel free to post more interesting old timber frame houses!
    Last edited by velvet; Saturday, October 31st, 2009 at 01:29 AM. Reason: image problems
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