Woods for conservation and enjoyment

You are here: Home > Blog > Practical Guides > Cruck Frame Buildings

Print this page

Cruck Frame Buildings ~ by Angus

Cruck Frame Buildings

A cruck frame is one where the structure of the building depends on two or more 'A-frames' which go from the top of the building down to the ground.  These frames are usually constructed of curved timbers (the cruck blades) using the natural shape of a tree and in many cases the tree is sliced long-ways down the middle so that whatever the shape of the curve the two sides are symmetrical.  The two beams are joined together at the top by a 'collar' or tie-beam.

Cruck barns probably evolved in Anglo Saxon times and the earliest archaeological evidence comes from 4th century excavations in Buckinghamshire, but this building technique really came into its own in medieval times. Large halls were built in towns and villages and a large cruck barn also became a sign of an individual farm's prosperity. The barns could be easily divided into sections or bays and threshing would have been done indoors.

By the eighteenth and nineteenth century, cruck-framed buildings were in decline both because of the success of box framing and because they used so much timber.  Farm modernisation also reduced the need for indoor threshing areas.  The box frame as an alternative had also become popular for residential buildings because it allowed the building of second and third floors and, being a square construction, made more use of town-centre space above the ground floor.  Box framing also made it much easier to add extra wings to a building.

The inverted 'v' shape has the advantage that the roof load is carried directly to the ground so that the wall frames can be made using a lighter construction and the walls also use the cruck frames for support.  In medieval times the timber would have been felled using a two man saw and axe and then squared up with an adze. The procedure for construction would usually involve assembly on the ground and subsequent erection to a standing position. Once this is done the heaviest part of the operation is complete.

There are various types of cruck frames.  Most seem to start at ground level whilst others start just below the wall plate level (raised cruck frames). In some constructions of wider buildings the frame starts at ground level but finishes at the collar which is a piece that joins the two cruck blades and this collar then supports the main roof timbers.

You can see cruck framed buildings in many parts of the country but one well-known example is the Herefordshire Cruck Barn at Avoncroft Museum in Bromsgrove (www.avoncroft.org.uk).  There is also a reconstructed cruck barn at the Greenwood Centre in Coalbrookdale near Ironbridge, Shropshire (home of the Small Woods Association).

If anyone has had experience of constructing a cruck frame structure or knows of any interesting examples of cruck barns or cruck houses - please tell us about it in the comments section below.

 

Posted in: Practical Guides ~ On: 30 November, 2007

31 comments so far

Architecture Student
23 January, 2018

Hi everyone,

i am currently working on a contemporary project using the cruck structure technology – load bearing crucks from foundations and carrying the roof, however my concern is adding different levels within the structure. Please send examples if you know any, of how stories are incorporated in a cruck structure – old as well as contemporary projects. Thank you in advance ! And great article and thread!

A.D

Rob Gibbons
3 January, 2018

TO ANY medieval historians or architectural detectives out there..

We started renovating an old cottage in Herefordshire (2012) stripping back 1950’s handy work and the false ‘straight dry-lining walls,” even 87 bags of rubble came out of the fireplace….

To find everything in the interior of the house pretty much original. There is a full cruck and half cruck that may have been a hip end over possibly a cattle stall / barn.

My wish now is to possible date the cruck bay. Much of the timbers are elm so more difficult to age than oak but I’m sure a lot of the woodworking tool marking , such as the adze marks and square chiseled out peg holes may offer some clues.

The Cruck walls are wattle & daub and under 4 layers of lime plaster we found small fragments of old print, with reference to Agencourt ( with an E ) and Harry Hotspur who was killed in the battle of Shrewsbury 1403.

Any advice very gratefully accepted
cheers Rob

Martin smith
10 September, 2017

I own a house near Wigan (Lancashire) that has full crucks which has a part that was used to keep animals in . It is T shaped built up to first floor level in thin strips of stone miixed in with manure.

The gable end is built of logs covered with wooden tiles; however, the building is now rendered over this…it still has the original kitchen door of axed planks and I estimate it was built around 1575.

David Martin
7 November, 2016

We built http://www.cruckbarn.co.uk in a small woodland in Herefordshire.

Kane Guy
15 October, 2016

Hi there,

Is anyone still about on this thread?

I am in the process of purchasing an old Welsh farmhouse, which has a large Cruck barn in the grounds and would dearly love to restore it to its former glory.

To that end I am trying to find as much information as possible about materials used, tooling methods, construction methods, etc., etc.

This beautiful building (in my eyes anyway), has been left to rot and is in danger of collapse, I will endeavour to halt any further decay and preserve what I can, but do not want to use any modern building materials if at all possible. Some of the timbers will be beyond repair, I realise that and I will have a timber survey carried out to find out what is salvageable and what has perished, but any other help anyone can give will be very gratefully received.

Cheers

Kane

John Langley
16 March, 2016

A large Cruck Barn has been built by the owners of the Craven Arms in Appletreewick, North Yorkshire.
It is used a a function room for Wedding Parties and other events.
The project was well researched and the building has been constructed using traditional materials and construction techniques.

Leave a comment

© 2018 Woodland Investment Management Ltd | Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Contact us | Blog powered by WordPress