Neolithic long house

Neolithic long house

The Neolithic long house was a long, narrow timber dwelling built by the first farmers in Europe beginning at least as early as the period 5000 to 6000 BC.[1] This type of architecture represents the largest free-standing structure in the world in its era. Long houses are present across numerous regions and time periods in the archaeological record.

It is thought that these Neolithic houses had no windows and only one doorway. The end farthest from the door appears to have been used for grain storage with working activities being carried out in the better lit door end and the middle used for sleeping and eating.

Twenty or thirty people, could have lived in each house with villages of six or seven houses known. They first appeared in central Europe in connection with the early Neolithic cultures such as the Linearbandkeramic or Cucuteni culture.

Structurally, the Neolithic long house was supported by rows of large timbers holding up a pitched roof. The walls would not have supported much weight and would have been quite short beneath the large roof. Sill beams ran in foundation trenches along the sides to support the low walls. A long house would measure around 20 metres in length and 7 metres in width.


The Balbridie timber house in what is present day Aberdeenshire, Scotland offers an outstanding example of these early timber structures. Archaeological excavations have revealed extant timber postholes that delineate the support pieces of the original structure. This site is strategically located in a fertile agricultural area along the River Dee very close to an ancient strategic ford of the river and also near an ancient timber trackway known as the Elsick Mounth.[2]


  • Rodney Castleden. 1987. The Stonehenge people. 282 pages
  • C. Michael Hogan. 2007. , Elsick Mounth, Megalithic Portal, ed A. Burnham
  • A. W. R. Whittle and Norman Yoffee, Europe in the Neolithic: The Creation of New Worlds, 1996, Cambridge University

Line notes

  1. ^ Rodney Castleden. 1987
  2. ^ C. Michael Hogan. 2007