I've read detailed social history on Scotland which goes back to about the 16th century, and it would seem like some of the poorest Scots of that era sometimes lived in housing which was as modest as mud / dirt huts.

If I'm understanding correctly the medieval era saw a very gradual rise of the town and city, or in other words civilization, so my assumption would be that early medieval society may have been closer to tribal and very primitive.

In any case, that brings me to the question of how people in early medieval Europe housed themselves, with Scotland as my case study. How did people in the current state of Scotland house themselves in the early medieval period?

  • This question is too broad to answer effectively. Different geographic regions and people of different income levels and occupations housed themselves differently. At a minimum you need to specify (1) the region or country, (2) what type of person (soldier, tradesman, farmer, etc). May 18 '15 at 19:02
  • Given, unless you answer the question broadly. I assume that'd be possible. "People lower on the economic strata tended to build their homes with [x] material, and were of [y] size".. etc. Surely there can't be that much variation across Europe. May 18 '15 at 19:59
  • Yes, there is, and don't call me Shirley. May 18 '15 at 23:06
  • prima facia the answer will differ from Norway to Southern Spain and from Scotland to Turkey. The answer will be different in the Swiss Alps than in the Netherlands. The answer will vary with the available materials, soils, and cultures.
    – MCW
    May 18 '15 at 23:55
  • 2
    Ok, I've narrowed it down to early medieval Scotland. Does that work? May 19 '15 at 13:21

There's an archeological site called West Stow in England that attempts to reconstruct the Anglo-Saxon village found there around the 5-7th Century. That would probably qualify. There's another website covering it that has a lot more pictures of the buildings.

It looks like the richer folks and their retainers lived together in "halls" that a lot of us are familiar with from Norse mythology, while the more humble folk tended to live it pit-houses (although there's an ongoing debate about how many pit-houses were just used for storage). The primary source of building materials there was wood, but that probably varied based on what materials were available locally.

Outside of the Germanic areas, one would imagine the architecture might be a bit different.

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