The Types of Buildings Constructed in the Vinland Voyages

The sagas tell of several kinds of houses, bir, sklar, hs, br, and bygir. A b [plural bir] was a specifically West Norse form of temporary dwelling. It consisted of a tent roof over turf walls. It was an easy structure to build. While the walls could be permanent and used time after time, the tent roof was taken down as soon as the stay was over. Most families participating in the things owned such a booth at the thing place and stayed in them the days or week the assembly was in session. A b was such a flimsy structure that it would not have been suitable for winter use. The word b is often translated as ‘booth,’ but the word ‘camp’ comes closer to its real meaning.

A skli [plural scalar] was a substantial building of wood covered with thick sod walls and a large sod roof supported by interior rows of posts. It took considerable time and manpower to construct. In this translation the word is rendered variously as ‘longhouse,’ or ‘hut,’ but a skli was more than an ordinary house. The usual translation is ’hall,’ the kind of house a chieftain lived in, often a huge structure with room for twenty to thirty people, including, besides the immediate family, some of the many people an estate owner had working for him.

A hs [same as English ‘house’] was a building or a room, baer and bygir a collection of buildings.

Read about the types of buildings constructed by the Vinland Voyagers in “The Saga of the Greenlanders”

Read about the types of buildings constructed by the Vinland Voyagers in “Eirik the Red’s Saga”

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