Wattle and daub

Wattle and daub is a composite building material used for making walls, in which a woven lattice of wooden strips called wattle is daubed with a sticky material usually made of some combination of wet soil, clay, sand, animal dung and straw. Wattle and daub has been used for at least 6,000 years and is still an important construction material in many parts of the world. Many historic buildings include wattle and daub construction, and the technique is becoming popular again in more developed areas as a low-impact sustainable building technique.

Wattle and daub in wooden frames


Wattle hurdle under construction
Wattle in construction

The wattle is made by weaving thin branches (either whole, or more usually split) or slats between upright stakes. The wattle may be made as loose panels, slotted between timber framing to make infill panels, or made in place to form the whole of a wall. In different regions, the material of wattle can be different. For example, in Mitchell Site on the northern outskirts of the city of Mitchell, South Dakota, willow has been found as the wattle material of the walls of the house.[1] Reeds and vines can also be used as wattle material.[2][3] The origin of the term wattle describing a group of acacias in Australia, is derived from the common use of acacias as wattle in early Australian European settlements.[4]

Daub is usually created from a mixture of ingredients from three categories: binders, aggregates and reinforcement. Binders hold the mix together and can include clay, lime, chalk dust and limestone dust. Aggregates give the mix its bulk and dimensional stability through materials such as mud, sand, crushed chalk and crushed stone. Reinforcement is provided by straw, hair, hay or other fibrous materials, and helps to hold the mix together as well as to control shrinkage and provide flexibility.[5] The daub may be mixed by hand, or by treading – either by humans or livestock. It is then applied to the wattle and allowed to dry, and often then whitewashed to increase its resistance to rain. Sometimes there can be more than one layer of daub. Still in Mitchell Site, the anterior of the house had double layers of burned daub. [6]

This process has been replaced in modern architecture by lath and plaster, a common building material for wall and ceiling surfaces, in which a series of nailed wooden strips are covered with plaster smoothed into a flat surface. In many regions this building method has itself been overtaken by drywall construction using plasterboard sheets


Spiro wattleanddaub HRoe 2005
A wattle and daub house as used by Native Americans during the Mississippian period

The wattle and daub technique was used already in the Neolithic period. It was common for houses of a Linear pottery and Rössen cultures of Central Europe, but is also found in Western Asia (Çatalhöyük, Shillourokambos) as well as in North America (Mississippian culture) and South America (Brazil). In Africa it is common in the architecture of traditional houses such as those of the Ashanti people. Its usage dates back at least 6000 years. There are suggestions that construction techniques such as lath and plaster and even cob may have evolved from wattle and daub. Fragments from prehistoric wattle and daub buildings have been found in Africa, Europe, Mesoamerica and North America.[7] A review of English architecture especially reveals that the sophistication of this craft is dependent on the various styles of timber frame housing.[8]

Tacuinum Sanitatis-cabbage harvest
A woven wattle gate keeps animals out of the 15th century cabbage patch (Tacuinum Sanitatis, Rouen)

Styles of infill panels

As discussed earlier, there were two popular choices for wattle and daub infill paneling: close-studded paneling and square paneling.


Close-studding panels create a much more narrow space between the timbers: anywhere from 7 to 16 inches (18 to 40 cm). For this style of panel, weaving is too difficult, so the wattles run horizontally and are known as ledgers. The ledgers are sprung into each upright timber (stud) through a system of augered holes on one side and short chiseled grooves along the other. The holes (along with holes of square paneling) are drilled at a slight angle towards the outer face of each stud. This allows room for upright hazels to be tied to ledgers from the inside of the building. The horizontal ledgers are placed every two to three feet (0.6 to 0.9 metres) with whole hazel rods positioned upright top to bottom and lashed to the ledgers. These hazel rods are generally tied a finger widths apart with 6–8 rods each with a 16-inch (40 cm) width. Gaps allow key formation for drying.[9]

Square panels

Wattle hurdle
Wattle panel

Square panels are large, wide panels typical of some later timber frame houses. These panels may be square in shape, or sometimes triangular to accommodate arched or decorative bracing. This style does require wattles to be woven for better support of the daub.

To insert wattles in a square panel several steps are required. First, a series of evenly spaced holes are drilled along the middle of the inner face of each upper timber. Next, a continuous groove is cut along the middle of each inner face of the lower timber in each panel. Vertical slender timbers, known as staves, are then inserted and these hold the whole panel within the timber frame. The staves are positioned into the holes and then sprung into the grooves. They must be placed with sufficient gaps to weave the flexible horizontal wattles.


In some places or cultures, the technique of wattle and daub were used with different materials thus has different names, including pug and pine, mud and stud (stud and mud), hourdis, rab (rad) and dab, pierrotage/bousillage (bouzillage) and columage. Bajarreque and jacal are examples of structure built with the technique of wattle and daub.

Pug and pine

In the early days of the colonisation of South Australia, in areas where substantial timber was unavailable, pioneers' cottages and other small buildings were frequently constructed with light vertical timbers, which may have been "native pine" (Callitris or Casuarina spp.), driven into the ground, the gaps being stopped with pug (kneaded clay and grass mixture). Another term for this construction is palisade and pug.[10]

Mud and stud

Mud & Stud (geograph 3651844)
A mud and stud wall in Tumby Woodside, Lincolnshire

"Mud and stud" is a similar process to wattle and daub, with a simple frame consisting only of upright studs joined by cross rails at the tops and bottoms. Thin staves of ash were attached, then daubed with a mixture of mud, straw, hair and dung. The style of building was once common in Lincolnshire.[11]

Pierrotage, columage

Pierrotage is the infilling material used in French Vernacular architecture of the Southern United States to infill between half-timbering with diagonal braces, which is similar with daub. It is usually made of lime mortar clay mixed with small stones. It is also called bousillage or bouzillage, especially in French Vernacular architecture of Louisiana of the early 1700s. The materials of bousillage are Spanish moss or clay and grass. Bousillage also refers to the type of brick molded with the same materials and used as infilling between posts. Columbage refers to the timber-framed construction with diagonal bracing of the framework. Pierratage or bousillage is the material filled into the structural timbers.[12]

Durand Cabin- poteaux-sur-solle & pierrotage
Example of pierrotage construction in Ste. Geneviève, Missouri.


Bajarreque is a wall constructed with the technique of wattle and daub. The wattle here is made of bagasse, and the daub is the mix of clay and straw.[13]


Jacal can refer to a type of crude house whose wall is built with wattle and daub in southwestern America. Closely spaced upright sticks or poles driven into the ground with small branches (wattle) interwoven between them make the structural frame of the wall. Mud or an adobe clay (daub) is covered outside. To provide additional weather protection, the wall is usually plastered.[14]

See also


  1. ^ Alex 1973.
  2. ^ Harris, Cyril M.. "Dictionary of architecture and construction, fourth edition." 2006 [1]
  3. ^ Allen, Edward, & Iano, Joseph. "Fundamentals of building construction: materials & methods, fifth edition"
  4. ^ "Australia's Wattle Day – Parliament of Australia". Aph.gov.au. Retrieved 24 October 2016.
  5. ^ Pritchett, Ian. The Building Conservation Directory, 2001: "Wattle and Daub". Accessed 2 February 2007
  6. ^ Alex 1973, p. 151.
  7. ^ Shaffer, Gary D. (Spring 1993). "An Archaeomagnetic Study of a Wattle and Daub Building Collapse". Journal of Field Archaeology. 20 (1): 59–75. JSTOR 530354.
  8. ^ Graham, A.H.D. "Wattle and Daub: Craft, Conservation and Wiltshire Case Study" (Dissertation), 2004. Accessed 26 October 2012
  9. ^ Sunshine, Paula. Wattle and Daub. Buckinghamshire: Shire Publications Ltd 2006.
  10. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 January 2012. Retrieved 19 September 2011.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ Aslet, Clive (15 August 2011). "Villages of Britain: The Five Hundred Villages that Made the Countryside". Bloomsbury Publishing USA. Retrieved 20 March 2018 – via Google Books.
  12. ^ Harris 2006, p. 231, p. 725.
  13. ^ Harris 2006, p. 77.
  14. ^ Harris 2006, p. 551.


  • Robert, Alex (1973). "Architectural features of houses at the Mitchell Site (39DV2), Eastern South Dakota". Plains Anthropologist. 18 (60). JSTOR 25667144.

External links

15 Firwood Fold

15 Firwood Fold is a 16th-century house in Bolton, Greater Manchester (grid reference SD732111). It is a Grade II* listed building and according to local tradition is the oldest inhabited house in Bolton. It stands separate from the other houses in Firwood Fold.

The house was originally built in a medieval style using the cruck construction technique, whereby A-shaped oak trusses on stone bases were covered in wattle and daub and thatch. It was later renovated and clad in stone. One of the trusses can be clearly seen in the gable end.


Architecture of the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture

The chalcolithic Cucuteni-Trypillia culture, in Eastern Europe, left behind thousands of settlement ruins, circa 6000 to 3500 BC, containing a wealth of archaeological artifacts attesting to their cultural and technological characteristics.

Bamboo-mud wall

Bamboo-mud wall (編竹夾泥牆, also known as Bamboo-net clay wall, Taiwanese wattle, and daub) is a composite wall construction method largely used in Taiwan under Japanese rule in the early 20th Century. Derived from Japanese wattle and daub (木舞, 小舞), Bamboo-mud wall differs from Japanese processor in its materiality, using bamboo instead of wood for woven lattice.

Buckshaw Hall

Buckshaw Hall is a grade II* listed 17th-century country house in Buckshaw Village, Euxton, some 3 miles (5 km) north-west of Chorley, England.

It is built to an H-plan with two-storey timber framing on a sandstone base, with both brick and wattle and daub infilling and a slate roof.


Callicoma, is a plant genus that contains just one species, Callicoma serratifolia, a tall shrub or small tree which is native to Australia. Callicoma serratifolia is commonly known as black wattle. One explanation for the name is the similarity of the flowers to those of Australian Acacia, which are commonly known as wattles. Another is its use in wattle and daub huts of the early settlers. The species has a number of other common names include callicoma, butterwood, silver leaf, silver-leaf butterwood and wild quince.

Corylus avellana

Corylus avellana, the common hazel, is a species of hazel native to Europe and western Asia, from the British Isles south to Iberia, Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, north to central Scandinavia, and east to the central Ural Mountains, the Caucasus, and northwestern Iran. It is an important component of the hedgerows that were the traditional field boundaries in lowland England. The wood was traditionally grown as coppice, the poles cut being used for wattle-and-daub building and agricultural fencing.

Common hazel is cultivated for its nuts. The name hazelnut applies to the nuts of any of the species of the genus Corylus. This hazelnut or cob nut, the kernel of the seed, is edible and used raw or roasted, or ground into a paste. The cob is round, compared with the longer filbert nut.

Hadji Muhammed

Hadji Muhammed was a small village in Southern Iraq which gives its name to a style of painted pottery and the early phase of what is the Ubaid culture. The pottery is painted in dark brown, black or purple in an attractive geometric style. Sandwiched between the earliest settlement of Eridu and the later "classical" Ubaid style, the culture is found as far north as Ras Al-Amiya. The Hadji Muhammed period saw the development of extensive canal networks from major settlements. Irrigation agriculture, which seems to have developed first at Choga Mami (4700–4600 BC) and rapidly spread elsewhere, from the first required collective effort and centralised coordination of labour. Buildings were of wattle and daub or mud brick. Joan Oates has suggested on the basis of continuity in configurations of certain vessels, despite differences in thickness of others that it is just a difference in style, rather than a new cultural tradition


An izba (Russian: изба́, IPA: [ɪzˈba] (listen)) is a traditional Russian countryside dwelling. Often a log house, it forms the living quarters of a conventional Russian farmstead. It is generally built close to the road and inside a yard, which also encloses a kitchen garden, hay shed, and barn within a simple woven stick fence. Traditional, old-style izba construction involved the use of simple tools, such as ropes, axes, knives, and spades. Nails were not generally used, as metal was relatively expensive, and neither were saws a common construction tool. Both interior and exterior are of split pine tree trunks, the gap between is traditionally filled with river clay, not unlike the North American log cabin.

The dominant building material of Russian vernacular architecture, and material culture generally, for centuries was wood. Specifically houses were made from locally-cut rough-hewn logs, with little or no stone, metal, or glass. Even churches and urban buildings were primarily wooden until the eighteenth century.All of the building's components were simply cut and fitted together using a hand axe. Coins, wool, and frankincense were customarily placed beneath the corners of the house as an expression of the superstition that doing this would make the people living there healthy and wealthy.

From the fifteenth century on, the central element of the interior of izba was the Russian stove, which could occupy up to one quarter of the floorspace in smaller dwellings. Often there were no beds (in the Western sense) for many members of the household, as people would sleep directly on the plaster top of the oven, or on shelves built directly above the stove.The outside of izbas were often embellished by various special architectural features, for example the rich wood carving decoration of windows. Such decorative elements and the use of the Russian stove are still commonly found in many modern Russian countryside houses, even though only the older wooden houses are called izbas today.

An alternative word for "izba" in Russian is khata (хата), which is the word in most Slavic languages for any cottage or small house (including Belarusian and Ukrainian). According to historian of Russia Geoffrey Hosking, starting in the eighteenth century khata was used in to refer to cottages on the tree-poor southern steppes which used logs only for the framing, and then used wattle-and-daub as infill covered with a plaster and whitewash exterior. However, generally this wattle-and-daub house is called "mazanka" (мазанка) and "khata" is not necessarily a "mazanka".

"Izba" is also the Bulgarian and Croatian word for "cellar", as in wine cellar or a basement used for storing foodstuffs treated to last a long time in general. In several other Slavic languages, izba is a generic term for a room inside a house (the term is used specifically for habitable rooms).


The jacal (həˈkɑːl; Mexican Spanish from Nahuatl xacalli contraction of xamitl calli; literally "hut") is an adobe-style housing structure historically found throughout parts of the southwestern United States and Mexico. This type of structure was employed by some Native people of the Americas prior to European colonization and was later employed by both Hispanic and Anglo settlers in Texas and elsewhere.Typically, a jacal consisted of slim close-set poles tied together and filled out with mud, clay and grasses. More sophisticated structures, such as those constructed by the Anasazi, incorporated adobe bricks—sun-baked mud and sandstone.

Jacal construction is similar to wattle and daub. However, the "wattle" portion of jacal structures consists mainly of vertical poles lashed together with cordage and sometimes supported by a pole framework, as in the pit-houses of the Basketmaker III period of the Ancestral Puebloan (a.k.a. Anasazi) Indians of the American Southwest. This is overlain with a layer of mud/adobe (the "daub"), sometimes applied over a middle layer of dry grasses or brush which functions as insulation.

Neolithic long house

The Neolithic long house was a long, narrow timber dwelling built by the first farmers in Europe beginning at least as early as the period 5000 to 6000 BC. They first appeared in central Europe in connection with the early Neolithic cultures such as the Linear Pottery culture or Cucuteni culture. This type of architecture represents the largest free-standing structure in the world in its era. Long houses are present across numerous regions and time periods in the archaeological record.

The long house was a rectangular structure, 5.5 to 7.0 m wide, of variable length, around 20 m up to 45 m. Outer walls were wattle-and-daub, sometimes alternating with split logs, with pitched, thatched roofs, supported by rows of poles, three across. The exterior walls would have been quite short beneath the large roof. They were solid and massive, oak posts being preferred. Clay for the daub was dug from pits near the house, which were then used for storage. Extra posts at one end may indicate a partial second story. Some Linear Pottery culture houses were occupied for as long as 30 years.It is thought that these houses had no windows and only one doorway. The door was located at one end of the house. Internally, the house had one or two partitions creating up to three areas. Interpretations of the use of these areas vary. Working activities might be carried out in the better lit door end, the middle used for sleeping and eating and the end farthest from the door could have been used for grain storage. According to other view, the interior was divided in areas for sleeping, common life and a fenced enclosure at the back end for keeping animals.Twenty or thirty people could have lived in each house, with villages composed typically of five to eight houses. Exceptionally, nearly 30 longhouses in a fortified settlement (dating to 4300 BC, i.e., Late Linear Pottery culture) were revealed by excavations at Oslonki in Poland.

Nowe Warpno Town Hall

Nowe Warpno Town Hall - a wattle and daub building in Nowe Warpno, West Pomeranian Voivodeship; in Poland. The building has a timber frame (Mur pruski) structure, built in 1697, after a large town fire destroyed the former town hall in 1692. The building has a unique architectural style to the region and is the most known landmark of Nowe Warpno.

Old Farm, Strawberry Hill

The Old Farm is located on Strawberry Hill in the suburb of Mira Mar in Albany, Western Australia. It is known as being the first farm in Western Australia.The hill on which the property is situated rises to a height of 237 feet (72 m) and is a spur of Mount Clarence. The soil is a mixture of clay and gravel with rich black loam on the lower side.The farm was initially established in 1827 as a government farm when the first Europeans settled at King George Sound. Edmund Lockyer, Alexander Collie and John Lawrence Morley selected the site as a government farm. Originally it occupied an area of 1,536 acres (622 ha) but only 6 acres (2 ha) remain today. The next three commandants of the settlement, Captain Wakefield, Lieutenant Sleeman and Captain Collet Barker, followed Lockyer's plan of continuing to develop the farm.

Alexander Collie was appointed Government Resident of Albany in 1831 and moved into a wattle and daub cottage situated on the farm. He named the property Strawberry Hill after the small plot of strawberries he was cultivating. Collie retired in 1832 and his successor was D. H. Macleod but it was the farm superintendent John Lawrence Morley who handed the property onto Richard Spencer.

Spencer was appointed as Government Resident in 1833; he acquired the farm and resided there with his wife, Ann, and his ten children. Spencer arranged for the erection of a granite two-storey building at the rear end of the original wattle and daub structure at a cost of £100. The garden was now well established and producing blood oranges, raspberries, grapes, asparagus, figs and almonds. The first visitors to stay in the new building included Charles Darwin and Captain Robert FitzRoy, of HMS Beagle.The old thatched roof wattle and daub part of the main residence burned down in 1870. A second cottage was built by Charles Miner in the same year.Francis Bird, the Chief Architect of Western Australia, acquired the property in 1889 and changed the name from Strawberry Hill to the Old Farm. His family retained ownership of the farm until the 1930s.The site lay derelict for many years until purchased by the Federal Government in 1956 and it was then vested in the National Trust of Australia in 1964. Conservation work commenced shortly afterward and it was later opened to the public.

Pleasant Hills, New South Wales

Pleasant Hills is a small village about 26 kilometres west of Henty in the Riverina district of New South Wales, Australia. At the 2006 census, Pleasant Hills had a population of 393 people.The village still retains a vibrant community and a number of old and impressive buildings. In particular are the Public School built in 1891, the Lutheran Church built (from wattle and daub) in 1888, the Public Hall built in 1912, and the Pleasant Hills Community Hotel built between 1917-1918. All of these buildings are still in use today.

The town was serviced by the Rand branch railway line before the line was closed in 1975. Pleasant Hills Post Office opened on 1 March 1890.

Speke Hall

Speke Hall is a wood-framed wattle-and-daub Tudor manor house in Speke, Liverpool, England. It is one of the finest surviving examples of its kind. It is owned by the National Trust and a Grade I listed building.


Subsoil is the layer of soil under the topsoil on the surface of the ground. Like topsoil it is composed of a variable mixture of small particles such as sand, silt and/or clay, but with a much lower percentage of organic matter and humus. Below the subsoil is the substratum, which can be residual bedrock, sediments, or aeolian deposits. As it is lacking in dark humus, subsoil is usually paler in color than the overlying topsoil. It may contain the deeper roots of some plants, such as trees, but a majority of plant roots lie within the topsoil.

Clay-based subsoil has been the primary source of material for adobe, cob, rammed earth, wattle and daub, and other earthen construction methods for millennia. Coarse sand, the other ingredient in most of these materials, is also found in subsoil.

Although by no means sterile, subsoil is relatively barren in terms of soil organisms compared to humus-rich topsoil.

Wattle (construction)

Wattle is a lightweight construction material made by weaving thin branches (either whole, or more usually split) or slats between upright stakes to form a woven lattice. It has commonly been used to make fences and hurdles for enclosing ground or handling livestock. The wattle may be made as loose panels, slotted between timber framing to make infill panels, or it may be made in place to form the whole of a fence or wall. The technique goes back to Neolithic times.

It forms the substructure of wattle and daub, a composite building material used for making walls, in which wattle is daubed with a sticky material usually made of some combination of wet soil, clay, sand, animal dung and straw. Wattle and daub has been used for at least 6,000 years, and is still an important construction material in many parts of the world. This process is similar to modern lath and plaster, a common building material for wall and ceiling surfaces, in which a series of nailed wooden strips are covered with plaster smoothed into a flat surface.

Many historic buildings include wattle and daub construction, and the technique is becoming popular again in more developed areas as a low-impact sustainable building technique.

Wealden hall house

The Wealden hall house is a type of vernacular medieval timber-framed hall house traditional in the south east of England. Typically built for a yeoman, it is most common in Kent (hence "Wealden" for the once densely forested Weald) and the east of Sussex but has also been built elsewhere. Kent has one of the highest concentrations of such surviving medieval timber framed buildings in Europe.The original plan usually had four bays with the two central ones forming the main hall open to the roof with the hearth in the middle and two doors to the outside at one end forming a cross passage. The open hearth was later moved towards the cross passage and became a fireplace with chimney, sometimes the chimney pile even blocking the cross passage, which had soon been screened off the main hall. Beyond the cross passage the outer bay at the "screens end" or "lower end" of the hall, usually contained two rooms commonly called buttery and pantry, while the rooms in the bay at the other end, the "upper end", were called parlours. The end bays each had an upper floor containing solars, which did not communicate with each other, as the hall rose to the rafters between them. The upper stories on both ends typically extended beyond the lower outer wall being jettied on at least one side of the building. As the main hall had no upper floor the outer wall ran straight up without jettying, and thus the central bays appeared recessed.

The early buildings had thatched roofs and walls of wattle and daub often whitewashed. Later buildings would have a brick infilling between timbers, sometimes leading to a complete replacement of the outer walls of the basement with solid stone walls.

West Oak Forest Earthlodge Site

The West Oak Forest Earthlodge Site is a historic site located near Glenwood, Iowa, United States. It was discovered in 2009 by local archeologist Dennis Miller who found a depression of about 20 feet (6.1 m) in diameter, and a maximum depth of 24 inches (61 cm) below the surrounding area. It was authenticated by the Office of the State Archeologist the following year. This is one of 29 known earthlodges that exist from the Nebraska Phase of the Woodland period. The earthlodges were dwellings that were composed of four central support posts, surrounded by shorter outer wall posts, with wattle and daub walls and roof. The depression in the earth was caused by the natural decay and caving-in of the earthlodge itself. In addition to the depression there have been 231 artifacts found at the site that dates from sometime between 1250 and 1400 C.E. The site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010.

Whitehall, Cheam

Whitehall is a timber-framed historic house museum in the centre of Cheam Village, Sutton, Greater London. It is thought to have been a wattle and daub yeoman farmer's house originally. It is Grade II* listed on Historic England's National Heritage List.

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