Medieval James Himself

Medieval James Himself
Guide at Ozark Medieval Fortress

Monday, May 2, 2011

Medieval Roof Tiles

Although the Ozark Medieval Fortress is in the process oMarch31 (4)f building walls, many guests are intrigued by the prospect of the work necessary for the future roofs.  Maybe this is because last year and this year have been rainy, but it may be because even a first look at the painting of the 2030 completed castle makes the roof seem like a daunting job.  It is.  This is not just because of the 12,000 tile that will have to be made by the potter, it is also because of the wooden framework the carpenters will have to build.  That framework will be on top of the 45 to 70-foot high stone tower walls. It will be steep, dangerous and will require meticulous measurements to keep the rows of tile straight.

April10Too (4)Fired clay roof tiles were well established as the standard castle roof in Medieval France.  They go back to the ancient Greeks who used tile in an “S” shape.  Clay tiles were expensive but fireproof, so a better choice than thatch.  The Romans also used clay tile and the French word for tile, “tuile” came from the Latin “tegula” meaning roof tile.  The Romans used an arched tile curved by the potters over their leg or a log. 

Clay tiles are heavy and, therefore, the stone walls of Greek temples, Roman buildings and Medieval castles were necessary for the strength needed to support them. 

The Medieval French style of tile is flat, or April10Too (3)“beaver tail” shingle.  This is the kind being made at the Ozark Medieval Fortress.  The clay is placed in a mold and the potter fashions a “hook” at the top which will grasp the board of the framework.  Pictured is a tile in such a form as well as a photograph of fired, finished roof tile on a sample section of roof framework.  They are not nailed.  There are no holes for rope to lash them to each other or the framework.  There will be no glue.  Their own weight and interlocking design will keep them in place.  The roof, of course, will seem steep by modern standards and cannot be walked on. 

Roofing companies still use authentic clay tiles and imitations because clay roof tiles create a quality, fireproof roof.  They are not common, however, because of their cost.  Still, it is good to remember that although the hand made tiles were a lot of work, they have lasted in the weather of Europe for hundreds of years.


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