A curving roof like this is more time consuming than a rectangular roofed building.

Thatch main .. Tools of the trade .. Thatching sequence .. Spot Repairs

Thatching Sequence

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The bundles shown are lake reed.
The narrowing of the bundle from base to tip is called 'taper'. These bundles are 5 foot tall and each will cover one foot of roof when laid down.
A roof is thatched in vertical lines called 'strokes'. Each stroke is two to three feet wide and is laid from the bottom to the top of the roof.
Here a temporary 'sway' or 'fixing' is placed over the opened bundles being worked. The sway holds the bundle in place and is removed when the next bundle in this layer is added.
The circular bundles are trained into a square shape. This is done here by the right hand pressing back the edge of the previous stroke and the removal of the temporary hazel scollops. (These scollops maintain pressure on the side of the previous stroke to keep it in shape).
A handful of reed is rotated by both hands from the bottom of the new bundle and firmly placed as the 'corner' of the previous layer and the side of the new stroke.
The hands check here that the reed is in line and there are no crossed straws. Care must be taken to have the butt ends level. Once this has been done the next handful is similarly integrated.
The right hand combs through the middle section checking for crossed straws and further shaping the the bundle into a square. Short straws are removed as they are found.
The top of this unit of reed is flattened until the tension against the previous stroke (to the right) and the formed square seems relaxed into position.
This process is repeated for the next bundle that makes up the width of this stroke.
And the portion rotated.
Scallops are hand twisted by grasping with the thumbs top and bottom of the center of the scallop and it is rotated as the hands pull in opposite directions. The pith in the scallop is crushed while the fibres twist. This allows the greenwood to bend with very little breakage.
Hazel rods are temporarily pinned into place with scallops to maintain a downward pressure on these bundles as they are being worked.
The bittle is used to tap and smooth the ends of the bundles into the roof surface.
As the desired surface begins to take shape the top edge of the bittle does less work as the front and top of the grooved underside of the bittle rubs up and down using both arm and wrist.
The reed is continually tugged forward and beaten back into place until the joins between bundles and butt ends blend. Once this stroke is finished the pressure of the subsequent bundles will reveal small inconsistancies that can be reworked as necessary.
The finished segment of this section of a stroke.
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