Structural analysis, supported by radiocarbon and tree-ring measurements, discloses that the timbered roof of the great Tithe Barn of Frocester, in Gloucestershire, England, does not date-as formerly believed-from the time of John de Gamages, abbot of the Monastery of St. Peter's in Gloucester (1284-1306), but is a postmedieval reconstruction of the original roof that perished in a fire early in the 16th century. On the other hand, the masonry walls from which this roof rises are those of the original structure. In medieval cruck construction the roof-supporting trusses were fully assembled on the ground (or in the case of "raised" crucks as in Frocester, on temporary platforms erected for that purpose) and from there reared into vertical position with the aid of pullies and ropes. The walls from which these trusses rose were brought to their full height only after this was done. The analysis of the roof of Frocester tells us a lot about the difficulties postmedieval builders encountered in this type of construction when facing the task of inserting the timbers of a new roof individually from above into an already completed system of walls. Although erected in a wholly unmedieval manner, the postmedieval roof of Frocester, however, may in design and general appearance be a literal copy of the original roof. In medieval England the cruck-truss found its densest distribution in territories settled primarily by Celtic peoples (west and Midlands). Its elegant curvilinearity was of special attraction to the Celtic mind. In the Lowlands with their overwhelming Anglo-Saxon and Norman population, the great aisled barns and halls of the Middle Ages were built in straight timbers in the traditional form of their continental homelands.
- Copyright 1983 The Society of Architectural Historians