Celtic Wheelhouse Part #2

       Building the “Round House” was mostly an exercise in manual labor. Digging down to ledge, mostly with pick and shovel, moving rock, and mixing mortar by hand accurately describes a good two thirds of the process. While the work was slow, it allowed ample time to think through each step of construction, and it was steady. I was continually reminded of the old axiom; “Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast”.       

         I had built the windows, carved door, and icebox ahead of time so that they could be set in place as the stonework progressed.

Instead of the thatch roof that would have been typical of a true wheelhouse, I had opted to use cedar shingles over a conical wooden roof. For the apex of the roof, instead of solid wood I had made a timber frame cone. The courses of cedar shingles stopped at the conical framework and I continued the shingling with wedge shaped pieces of plexi-glass. From the out side the plexi-glass is not obvious.

Upon entering the building, however, there is an unexpected amount of natural light from directly overhead. The effect is reminiscent of the kiva we visited where the main light source was the hole in the roof though which a ladder projected, and which served as the doorway.              

Celtic Wheelhouse

            Although the architectural elements of the “Round House” are more recognizable as Northern European in origin rather than Pre-Historic American; the overall feeling of the building is quite similar to that of the kiva. The scale of the two structures is nearly identical, and since the Round House sits dug into a hillside, it has similar subterranean quality.       

            While there is a seeming harmony of style to the Round House, it is, in fact, an exercise in architectural plagiarism. The door design and shingle style roof were inspired by early Scandinavian architecture. The actual carvings are more Hiberno-Saxon, the hearth was inspired by a Myceneaen-Greek hearth I had seen, although the tile design was pure Celtic. I don’t suppose it is really any more eclectic than any other house in North America, just the sources of inspiration may be a little different.

Celtic Wheelhouse


5 Responses to “Celtic Wheelhouse Part #2”

  1. VickyTH Says:

    This is one of the most beautiful constructions I’ve ever seen. How long did it take you to build, when all was said and done?

  2. dovetails Says:

    Thanks, Vicky, I am glad you like it.
    I built the wheelhouse over two years. The summers were spent digging the hole for the foundation and doing the stonework (mostly just lugging stone), and the winters planning and prefabricating the woodwork in my shop.

  3. Latvian Says:

    Hi, I like this architecture. Good job! I am willing to have something like this in my garden. Perhaps a bit smaller.

  4. Jonathan Eells (Jolnir on B'r) Says:

    I’ve been searching years for the proper thing to build in my oak forest. And now I’ve found it! You, sir, are a genius/blessing/messenger.

    I dug the circular foundation for this building two years ago, and then. just. stopped. Something in me said “No, your plan ain’t right yet”. And now I know why I stopped, and what I was waiting for – without knowing that I was indeed waiting. I thought I was just a lazy ass.

    A Celtic Roundhouse it is! OK, OK, so it’s going to be a Norse Roundhouse. I’ll post pictures.

  5. dovetails Says:

    Maybe if a few more people build wheelhouses we could start a club, or trend, or something…
    Please keep me posted—would love to see pictures if you go ahead with this.

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