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Offline tok-tokkie

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Corbelled buildings of the Great Karoo
« on: October 17, 2009, 04:27:19 pm »
I am writing a ride report about the Sak river.  Along the way I saw a corbelled building and would like to refer to this thread (which I originally posted elsewhere on a closed site).

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Antonia & I went up to Loxton where a friend of ours, Pat, is doing research on corbelled houses for her MA.  We went by car because I am busy working on my Dakar and did not get it finished in time.  We went up on a Wednesday and came back on the following Tuesday.  Pat has a list of 80 corbelled houses in the area and has visited about 20 of them so far.  She goes and talks to the owners to see what they know about them, sketches them, measures them and her husband, John, photographs them.  Antonia & I did the measuring for her as our contribution.  There were some other friends from the Vernacular Architecture Society also helping.  In particular Celeste as she comes from the area and knows many of the owners of the buildings so she could phone and make the appointments before we went (Pat never goes without first making contact with the owners).

We went on a trip to France a few years ago.  My surname is Malan so we went to Provence where they originated and did a three day walk.  We went to see the corbelled village of Borries because there are also such buildings in the Karoo.  I wrote up about that village but I will add that posting after I have shown the Karoo ones.


That is Antonia and her elder sister Sarah.


This is the first one we went to see.  The driver of the tractor lives in it.  Most of the others we visited were unoccupied.  In fact many of the farmhouses are also unoccupied.  What is happening is the successful farmers are buying up the farms as they become available.  Several of the corbelled houses belong to one farmer who owns all the farms in a 22km stretch towards Williston from Loxton.  This one has been plastered outside which makes it more wind & waterproof.


I am a Bishops old boy so was pleased to see the tractor driver seems to have also gone there as he has the blazer proudly hung up in his house.


This one has also been plastered.  The stones that stick out are for laying planks on when building it – scaffolding.
 

Offline tok-tokkie

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Re: Corbelled buildings of the Great Karoo
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2009, 04:28:57 pm »

This is looking up inside that plastered one.  We had a laser measuring device which is the red mark on the highest point.  A corbelled building is made by packing each ring of stones above the door level slightly inwards from the layer below so you can make a closed roof by making the walls slope inwards until they meet in the middle.


This one has had a farmhouse added to it.  It has a wooden floor inside and has a wooden floor above the door height to make a loft.  The wood seemed to be pine; whether it was from Europe or America I don’t know.


Here is an abandoned one.  The two outside ones were built first then the linking one in between was added.


We did not visit this one but Pat has been to it previously.  You can see it from the road.  Again it has the scaffolding stones sticking out.  Notice that there are different shapes to the corbelled buildings.


Another one, again with the scaffolding stones.  The next one has an old wind generator on top.  It has been modified as the tapered roof part is made of cement and bricks on top of the remains of an old corbelled building.





This one shows the landscape.  In this part of the Great Karoo there are no trees so there was no wood to make a roof out of which is why the corbelled buildings were built.  There are lots of flat stones because this is a sedimentary rock area.  I will add a post about the geology later.


This is the same one but from a different angle.


Notice the rectangular barn in the background.


Here is that barn again.  Just look at how beautifully square and straight those walls are.


This is inside.  This was built in 1941 I think.  It has a concrete ring beam around the top of the wall on which the roof sits.  But the walls have only a little clay mud between the stones – no cement.


Here is the door and you can see there is very little clay between the stones.  There are also no saw or chisel marks on the stones. Beautiful craftsmanship.


These ones have been ‘modernised’ by having fire places added and cement has been used to fill between the stones (point) to make them more wind & water proof.

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Pat is doing her MA through the Department of Archaeology at UCT.  In the US archaeology is not a department in its own right; it is a division of the Department of Anthropology.  Anthropology is the study of human beings http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthropology.  So although she is looking at all these buildings, measuring and photographing them it is not enough for a MA to leave it at that.  She has to address the anthropological questions these ‘artifacts’ raise.  Archaeology is not just the collection of objects (‘treasure’ in popular belief), it is also finding out how they fitted into the lifestyles of those who used them and what their social significance was.  So, who built these houses?  When were they built? Were they just to protect themselves from the San’s arrows or just from  the wind & cold?  Why are they where they are (some are quite far from water & some are in very exposed positions on the top of ridges)?  What were they used for (not all were houses it seems)?  Who lived in the ones that were lived in?  Were they occupied all the time or just for a part of the year?  But more importantly, what went on in these buildings?  What was the lifestyle of the people who built and used them? When did they cease to be lived in? There are some old rubbish heaps close to some of them so she can dig a trench through a few of those which will tell her quite a lot about what was going on and when – particularly broken china will give her a good guide to dates and the status of the occupants.    If she simply recorded the buildings then her thesis would be applicable to the Department of Architecture.
 

Offline tok-tokkie

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Re: Corbelled buildings of the Great Karoo
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2009, 04:30:16 pm »
Bories.

Corbelled buildings


Gordes is on the side of the Vacluse mountains which are the last outpost of the Alps down towards the Mediterranean Sea.  The hillside is thick with limestone rocks.  What to do with all the rocks in your fields?  Pack them into walls to get them out of the field.


Or build a shed out of them.  This is an olive grove with a tool shed.  This type of construction is called corbelled building.  Antonia was interested in going to ‘Le Village des Bories’ outside Gordes because it is made entirely of corbelled buildings.  Antonia is a member of the Vernacular Architecture Society of South Africa (VERNACS).  There are corbelled buildings in the Great Karoo which the VERNACS have visited and are currently busy recording.  Seeing we were near to Bories she wanted to see the buildings there.  The founder of the VERNACS had been here in the past.  Those two photos were taken on our walk to Bories from Gordes which is where we started our proper walking tour from.


This is one of the buildings in Bories.  A corbelled building is built out of dry stone (no mortar or cement is used; the stones are simply stacked on each other).  The distinctive feature is the roof which is made by placing each layer slightly inwards so you end up with a building made entirely out of stones; no wood is used at all, even for the roof.


A view of the roof from the inside (not the same building).


There are seven buildings in the village, only one is a single room separate building.  The others are like this. Part is for people & parts are barns or for animals.


I think this is the single room building.  Note how tall it is.


Another view of the same one I think.


The building on the left has a ‘window’ – very unusual for Bories. 
 

Offline tok-tokkie

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Re: Corbelled buildings of the Great Karoo
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2009, 04:31:25 pm »

The hills in the background are Le Petit Luberon.  The town where the Malans came from is Merindol & it is just behind the highest point but close to the river Durance on the far side.  Those are Holm oak trees in the photo.  Notice how much uncultivated land there is in Provence.  Over the next three days we were going to walk from here (Bories is close to Borges where we were staying) to Lourmarin which is close to Merindol mainly through the forests you see in the picture.  I had wanted to see the country my ancestors had to flee.


This building is more ‘modern’ shaped with straight walls and a definite start to the roof which also has sharp corners on the hipped end edges.  Also has a tiny window.  The buildings had collapsed and have been rebuilt so they probably were not so ‘perfectly’ shaped originally.
When they were first built is unclear, there is discussion about it in this link:
http://www.avignon-et-provence.com/luberon/village-des-bories/gb/
It may have been as long ago as the Bronze Age or not before the 15th century according to that link though the last building was in the 1800s which is also when the site was abandoned.  Is this the one built in the 1800s?


I am pretty sure this must be the last to be built.  Note the frame around the door and window; that is typical of most of the buildings you still see in Provence now.  Note the big stones on the corner of the building; again common on the buildings in modern towns in Provence.  Plus it is two stories high.  This is a museum giving information about Bories and how it was restored between 1969 & 1976.  It has pictures of other corbelled buildings around the world but South Africa is not listed.  Antonia spoke to them and will be sending them the VASSA Journal about corbelled buildings in the Great Karoo.  Antonia had a proper look at the genealogy of people known to have lived in Bories which is inside this museum.  Look what she noticed:


I will zoom in further.


My son is called Anton Malan.  So the Malans were here too and way back in 1572 & even before that.  Not a chateau to have in ones history but I am very content to have this in my record.

I wonder if the Meynards became our Maynards.  The x1592 Lacoste is the date of a marriage in Lacoste (a town nearby) is that the origin of our farm name Lacotte?  I will make a separate post about this topic.



 

Offline LeonDude

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Re: Corbelled buildings of the Great Karoo
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2009, 05:14:16 pm »
Thanks for sharing!  :thumleft:
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Offline XT JOE

Re: Corbelled buildings of the Great Karoo
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2009, 06:20:23 pm »
Thank's, very interesting.
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Offline MrBig

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Re: Corbelled buildings of the Great Karoo
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2009, 07:44:13 pm »
Refreshingly informative! Thanks!  :thumleft:
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Offline Welsh

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Re: Corbelled buildings of the Great Karoo
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2009, 08:06:53 pm »
I know the dry stone walls, that are the "hedges" in welsh mountains...no mortar just packed stone, up gradients you cannot walk up!
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Offline eikeboom

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Re: Corbelled buildings of the Great Karoo
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2009, 11:00:37 pm »
Sorry to hijack!
This made me think of what I saw in Barrydale recently - some new homeowners there using the slate from the area in a slightly different way, also to good effect - jolly nice:


and


and
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Offline Stofdonkie

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Re: Corbelled buildings of the Great Karoo
« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2009, 07:42:58 am »
That barn/shed is a thing of beauty. Workmanship like is impossible to find nowadays.
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Re: Corbelled buildings of the Great Karoo
« Reply #10 on: December 24, 2009, 02:58:25 pm »


Here is the door and you can see there is very little clay between the stones.  There are also no saw or chisel marks on the stones. Beautiful craftsmanship.


The stonemasons probably used slate tools to work the slates used in the barn - that's why there are no clear tool marks.
The stones themselves are clearly shaped square using some tools or other.

Nice photos anyway!  :thumleft:
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Re: Corbelled buildings of the Great Karoo
« Reply #11 on: December 24, 2009, 06:27:20 pm »
Also a few in the Beaufort distrik on a farm Hillanddale, I think they are not as old though  :thumleft:





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Re: Corbelled buildings of the Great Karoo
« Reply #12 on: December 24, 2009, 09:19:45 pm »
On the way to Merweville, just after Rammelkop:

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