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Door hinges are very old, but they've usually been made out of iron or bronze. Before metal was widely available and inexpensive, what did common people use for door hinges?

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    Leather was common as a hinge. – Mark C. Wallace Mar 15 '16 at 0:20
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    Also to consider: many openings had flaps of fabric or other flexible materials rather than solid doors (hinges irrelevant). – bgwiehle Mar 15 '16 at 1:28
  • @bgwiehle, I'm specifically interested in doors, not flaps. – Joe Mar 15 '16 at 5:35
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    Leather seems to be most common. But wooden hinges are also usable. – Matt Mar 15 '16 at 11:10
  • Wigwams and tipis generally had hide 'doors', no hinges involved – CGCampbell Mar 16 '16 at 18:56
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Apart from leather hinges that were used even when iron was common (but not so common as to be cheap), there existed the different mounting of the door. I have heard about its use from my grandfather, when I asked for explanation about what is the "heel" of the door in Russian fairy-tales.

The whole side of the door frame worked as a huge hinge - this side was made of a bit longer piece of wood, that fitted into shallow holes in the appropriate places in the outer frame. The sticking out pieces were called "heels". They are mentioned by several Russian fairy-tales, when a Door asks a hero to grease her heels. (The good hero does and gets some help).

Obviously, the very thick and heavy wooden doors of the old Russian houses simply could not be held by leather strips. (The boards were extremely expensive). And the leather had yet to be attached to the door somehow, too.

  • Now I'm really glad I asked this question -- I'd never heard of doors like this before! – Joe Mar 16 '16 at 1:07
  • I have only heard about them and never saw them myself. I suppose that mount could be used in the wooden architecture of the Russian North, Kizhi and around it. Maybe, somebody was there? ... A very interesting question it is. This is the real history - not wars and kings. – Gangnus Mar 16 '16 at 8:16
  • I had to read this several times in order to picture it in my mind's eye, but wow! Cool door! – Aaron Brick Jan 1 '17 at 6:06

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