We build a bushcraft viking house from the viking age using hand tools only. Inspired by vikings, who were very resourceful and created buildings using the natural materials they scavenged around them. We used simple hand tools such as axe, saw, auger, drawknife, bushcraft knife and other simple tools.
To begin with we cut cedar logs from trees that had been felled in the forest. We used an axe and saw to make log cabin notches and built the foundation of the viking house two logs high. We then used the hand auger to build the timber frame. This consisted of 3 large “A” frames. We burnt the ends of the logs in fire to evaporate any moisture and create a rot-proof layer of charred wood which will help to preserve the timber frame foundation when the poles are in the ground. We used a long cedar log as the ridge pole which sits on top of the a frame of the bushcraft shelter. The next stage was building a viking longpit or firepit. This we wanted to make as historically accurate as we could. So we dug a pit about 4 feet long and 2 feet wide. We lined the pit with large stones found in the nearby area. In order to reduce waste of any materials, we used the clay from the pit to secure the stones. We added water to the clay to make it easier to work with and we filled in the gaps between the stones. We then lit a small fire in the pit and let the clay dry out for a few days. At this point we realised we could make our job easier by building a diy saw horse. So we used the drawknife to remove bark from a log (helps to prevent rot). We used the auger to drill four holes for legs and then we made four wood pegs for the top of the saw horse. For the rafters we used more cedar logs and again burnt the ends. It is an ancient japanese technique to preserve wood which is called shou sugi ban.
It was then finally time to build the roof of the house. For this, we peeled the bark off the cedar logs. We then put this on the rafters and secured it with some roofing tacks. We had to be fast when doing this, as the cedar bark shrinks and cracks when it dries. We put it on in layers like roof tiles. We built a wood ladder to get up high on the roof and secure the final bark layers.
Using an axe and bushcraft, we made some wooden wedges and split a few large cedar logs. We then hewed these logs and built a raised viking bed for the inside of the house. We also made some benches to sit near the fire. At the back of the viking house, we built a folding window and support arm so that we could let light into the house and also improve the airflow. We dug an air vent too, to allow more oxygen to get to the fire. To make the shelter more secure, we built a perimeter wall use cedar posts and hazel saplings (also known as wattle wall). To help further improve the airflow inside the shelter, we cut a hole in the roof and built a ridge cap or ridge vent to act like a chimney and let the smoke out. Overall this viking house took about 10 days to build. It was in winter, so we were restricted by daylight hours. This is not a historically correct viking house. Traditional viking houses were built with large timbers that were hewn from big logs. They had large gable ends almost like log cabins and the roof was made from wood shingles. Often they looked like viking longships or longboats and had many decorative viking features. In a viking longhouse, there would be enough room for many people and animals as well. But this was our take on it.
We have done a number of different camping overnight trips in this shelter. We have cooked meat over fire, had great viking feasts and spent many hours keeping warm around the firepit. I hope you enjoyed this vikings inspired bushcraft build. To watch the whole series of individual episodes (where we talk and explain what we are doing) then please follow links below.
VIKING HOUSE BUILD (Each Episode):
Bushcraft Tools Channel:
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SAXON HOUSE BUILD:
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