Build A Model of A Celtic Roundhouse
By Crede Calhoun Chief Guide for All Earth Eco Tours -owner - Windrushonline

Our project for this spring is to build a Celtic Round House Model.

Like any directions you have to follow them carefully and read them completely. I can't count how many times in workshops I have led where participants have had trouble because they didn't take the time to carefully read and understand the directions. Last spring we had a survival program out at Backbone Farm and one of the groups in Team Survivor had trouble starting their fire. It turns out they used the fire making instructions to try and light the fire. Once that failed, their lack of experience pretty much caused them to stand around bewildered.

Items you will need for our directions are:

Any straight sticks will do. The length is of your sticks is not given. You have to measure by eye or ruler.

  • A base for the house (plywood and wood blocks)
  • A source of straight sticks ( I really like the 'Rose Of Sharon' shrub, this bush grows perfect shoots that are flexible, easy to cut, yet strong and grow very straight and in just the rght diameter.)
  • Rawhide lacing or similar strong cord. The rawhide works well wet (soak for 24 hours), and then when it dries it tightens and hardens.
  • Garden shears to clip your sticks
  • Scissors to cut your rawhide strings
  • Wooden Coffee Stir Sticks of Popsicle Sticks for the Walls
  • Elmers Glue or Tacky Glue (to glue the walls)
  • Drill with suitable bit 3/8 or 1/4"

A great father/mother and son/da
Brief Introduction:
The Celtic Roundhouse was the traditional dwellingof the Celtic People's who lived in central and northwestern Europe 3,400 years ago. Their culture was very dedicated to the respect and veneration of nature, poetry, story and myth. These Irish and Welsh people lived close to the land and many of their ancient stories are about magical and mystical adventures that Hero's took for the benefit of their tribe.
celtic round house
Traditional Celtic Round House


Our House begins with a plywood base and blocks nailed or glued to the bottom to raise it up. It can be round or square. Mark out your 8 sided by drawing a perfect circle and then drawing four lines through the center at right angles. Then draw two more lines between these. Your upright poles go at the intersections. Drill with a 3/8th bit or drill bit close to the size of your sticks diameter for the uprights.

To darw a circle. Nail a tack where you want the middle of the house to be and then attach a string to it and draw a circle with a pencil tied on the other end.

Carve down the uprights to fit tightly in the drilled holes or use glue and toothpicks to tighten up the uprights by gluing in the hole and around the upright stick and jamming and sticking small pieces of toothpicks in the base of the uprights to take up the slack in the hole. Let the uprights stick through the bottom of your base a little. You may want to make your basic walls before gluing the base of the 8 uprights into base. As you make the walls by lashing the cross supports keep the uprights straight and square with the Y's facing the center of the round house. Then glue. base

The extra long stick sticking out to the left of the door will be trimmed later. In tis picture you can see the front and back of the wall construction. Let your imagination determine some of your design. Once you get working with the materials, ideas will come to you.

Our round house has the walls already built in the pictures, but you can see the basic design of the uprights and how the walls are made. Tie a properly sized cross stick for the top of your wall and tie this tightly to your upright just below the Y or crotch of the upright. Face all your crotches toward the center of your house before the glue sets in the base. Glue properly sized sticks between the uprights and on the base for the bottom of your wall. Glue your coffee stir sticks with whie glue to the top and bottom horizontal sticks of your wall.
Using rawhide lacing is great for tying the supports together. The rawhide lacing should be soaked for at least 24 hours. When you tie it wet it dries tighter (shrinks) and is tough. It also gives a traditional look.
You can get creative with windows and doors. Here I used an extra long stick for the top of one of the walls to form the top of the roof for a window. You have to look at the pictures carefully to see what to do. You can always trim stuff carefully with your pruning shears.
Notice the front door and the small roof for it too.

The round house has a second floor too! Just glue popsicle sticks to properly sizes sticks and lay these across your walls. You'll have to do some figuring on your own. Just look carefully at the pictures. Mine are removable and just sit there. I added an extra cross support along the top of one of the walls so the 2nd floor wouldn't be resting on just the tops of the coffeee stir sticks. Top of photo at right.

These are only the first four poles pictured above being assembled by my daughter Caileigh Raine. Add all eight roof sticks/poles in the same manner and lash together. Add the first four as shown and then the last four. Lash all the way from the bottom pipe cleaner shown in the picture on the right-above to the top green pipe cleaner. See detail below.


Next you are ready to begin your roof. Notice how on celtic roofs the roof poles extend down low. Join your 8 roof sticks as shown. You can use pipe cleaners or wire to hold them in place and properly seated in the crotch of your uprights. Pipe cleaner the tops of your roof poles and then lash the tops with rawhide or other cord. You want to have about 3 to four inches of the top of all 8 of your roof poles lashed together. This will help to make a nice 'celtic' shape to the roof.

Once you have the eight roof poles up you can lash hoops around the roof or use single sticks to connect them horizontally. Look at the pictures very carefully. The small hoop at the top of the roof poles is key. See detail at right. Finding flexible sticks is key to make hoops and you may have to search out the 'Rose of Sharon' or wait till spring and use willow or cherry. You must leave about 1-2 inches open at the top. If you use hoops you can control the shape of the roof to give it that cool celtic conical shape.

See how the roof sets on the Y's by its horizontal cross supports (in this case a single hoop) of the uprights


Again, see how the roof is supported. The sticks from side to side forming the star in the middle are for extra support.

The roof is designed to sit down in the crotches/Y's of your eight uprights. KEEP YOUR UPRIGHTS ATTACHED TO THE ROOF POLES WITH PIPE CLEANERS UNTIL MOST OF YOUR ROOF STRUCTURE IS COMPLETE.

You will need 8 more roof sticks half the diameter of your main roof sticks. These you can feed up or down through your top opening (see top of roof detail above) and lash to your lowest roof horizontals which are below the Y's of your uprights. If done right and tied well the roof will lift right off and set back down in the Y's of your uprights

ughter project. Will take some hours to complete and you can go crazy with decorating too. It makes a fun doll house from Ancient Celtic Times!

Have fun with your design. We haven't decided how to thatch the roof and we may not. My daughter likes to see the through the roof, even though it was designed to easily come on and off. Stay tuned for updated photos on the roof if we decide thatch it.

The image shown here is one of many representations of the Celtic Tree of Life. The Tree was a central part of early Celtic spirituality.

To the Celts, the tree was a source of basic sustenance- a bearer of food, a provider of shelter and fuel for cooking and warmth. Without trees, life would have been extraordinarily difficult.

Wood from sacred trees had magickal properties, which was reflected in the Celtic Ogham alphabet, wherein each letter represents a particular sacred tree (modern Ogham divination is based on the uses and importance of these sacred trees to the Celtic people). Some trees provided food, some wood for making hunting weapons; others were sacred to the fairy-folk or to the Gods. In Celtic creation stories, trees were the ancestors of mankind, elder beings of wisdom who provided the alphabet, the calendar, and entrance to the realms of the Gods.
From About . Com


Learn more about The Celtic People, Their Art, Culture, Spirituality and Lifestyle

Here's a website where some folks made a real life full size style Celtic roundhouse

Here's the Wikipedia entry on Celtic Art

A British Web Page on the Celtic Culture

Big Scottish Celtic Link Site