Naturally, when the talk turns to life as a Saxon, one question that comes to mind is this: “What about the daily life?” Much is made of who was king of what when and where, but not a whole lot is made of how the rest of the people lived.
The rest of the people, of course, being ceorls and other peasants, the lowest class of warriors, and other so-called “normal” people.
The Saxons, once they had carved out a niche for themselves in Britain, decided to stay. They liked it and wanted to make a home for themselves and future generations. The basis of this home was the house.
Many churches, warlord residences, and other buildings were constructed of stone, but the great majority of family houses were made of wood. Some roofs were made of turf or wooden shingles, but the roofs were usually thatched, and windows were scarce. If a house did have windows, they were just holes cut into the wooden walls and covered with animal skins, so light could shine through.
The Saxon HouseThese houses were one story and one room. This was true of even the largest buildings. They were, largely, rectangular. And they had sunken floors–pit areas that had various uses, including for storing items, holding hay for insulation, and providing a work area. The wooden planks that covered these sunken floors were generally found only atop the pit areas and not in the rest of the house.
Also inside were wooden sleeping platforms and open hearths. The hearths usually were close to the pit areas, so that the decomposing straw down in the pit would naturally create warmth.
The Saxon house–with its wood floors, thatched roofs, animal-skin-covered windows, and sunken floors–was the center of a family’s life and a refuge for the war-weary from virtually all walks of life.