Roundhouses were circular houses usually made of timber with an average diameter of between 20 and 30 feet. Extending beyond the walls, conical roofs were thatched with vegetation like heather or bracken. Smoke from a central hearth escaped through this thatch making the interior quite snug, especially as it may have been shared with farm animals. It’s even been suggested that there could have been an upper floor in the larger houses, with the stock kept at ground level. A typical roundhouse would have held between 12 and 20 people.
Roundhouses often leave circular marks on the ground in the form of a depression up to a foot wide marking the base of the original walls. Sometimes you can see the remains of ditches that were probably used for drainage, perhaps when stock was being kept inside the building. In well-preserved examples the doorway can be detected; these most commonly face east or south-east, avoiding the prevailing westerly winds and getting the best of the morning light.