Avennorians have many different styles of housing
due to their mixed ancestries and the influence of styles imported from other
tribes or areas which have formed the face of many a town. As locally found
building material has been used mainly, the appearance of houses and towns
varies with the area in which they are located as with the money the future
owner had available.
So all can be found from the primitive hut made out wood to the finest manor house out of white Varcopasian granite a rich merchant has built for his wife. Generally the housing can be divided into three main categories, the simpler farmhouses found in the middle of the country, near the forests and where the soil isn‘t as fertile as in the coastal regions, the big farmhouses or estates in the flatter areas near the sea and the cities like Ciosa, Marcogg, Klinsor, Ravenport or Lorehaven. There are many individual or local customs as well though, which are worth mentioning like the whalebone huts on the east coast. Not to mention the poor huts which don‘t follow any tradition, but are built obeying the need to use what was available and cheap to realise.
The Big Cities.
When approaching one of the most ancient towns the
Avennorians have built,
Ciosa, weather defying multi-storey
buildings out of black and grey granite with dark grey slates on the roofs are
greeting the incoming sailors. This look partly share
Marcogg and Klinsor,
all using the dark granite of the Caeytharin Mountains and the nearly black
slates, though Marcogg has white
claybricks as well as a structure out of dark painted
wood and white plaster. The only other "dark"
town is Ravenport. Its founders wanted to create a
Ciosa of the
west-coast, hoping the town would develop to an as
wealthy city as the old Ciosa.
So they imported the dark grey granite from the Hawkeye Quarry in the Caeytharin
Mountains and the slates from Griffin‘s Marl.
Lorehaven however as a younger town
preferred to use lighter materials like brick and wood and clay tiles of a soft
reddish brown in colour. So the city is full of muted, warm
earth tones and colours. This choice
may well be the result of strong Darian bloodlines in their population.
Generally said - everybody who is proud of his Avennorian or even Glandorian ancestry and can afford it tries to show his wealth with building big houses, where possible out of granite, with glass-windows and with a distinct boat-shaped roof. If these houses are very comfortable to live in, with most times just one or two chimneys is not important, as long as it looks representative.
Those not gifted with rich forefathers or the talent to make money easily are forced to decide, if they should take the still expensive limestone and build a smaller house or the cheaper construction with wood and claybricks in between, which might enable them to build in a grander style. The interior however often doesn‘t match the magnificent looking exterior, except from the entrance hall and a first attached room for visiting guests.
The Bigger Farmhouses and Estates. Here are described the bigger farms or the even greater manor houses with attached farming, not the solitary houses built by rich people near the cites who wanted to have a summer residence.
In the flatter areas like the Twynor Farmsteadings we find big farms with more than two buildings. They are owned mostly by the upper Avennorian classes, often the owner is only present now and then to keep an eye on them or for recreation, hunting and feasting. In this case a bailiff looks after the farm. The estates served as a kind of small fortification and though there is no need for it today, this state is well preserved.
These bigger properties consist mostly of three big buildings, grouped around a big place and are built together: The main house, which is very elaborately done, dependant on the money the owner has, the stables which are opposite and the big barn connecting the stables and the main building. The place is closed by a simple wall with a nicely decorated gate, which gives the first impression about the wealth of the owner and his farm or estate. On ground level not many windows can be found on the outer walls, and if so, then they are small or of a late date. The barn has none on the outside, but two huge doors, one above the other. On top of these gates is a gable with a tackle which helps to unload the harvest.
In the less noble farms of this kind, life takes place in the inner farmyard. There is the dunghill near the stables, a well near the house, a little fenced herb garden, hens and geese are allowed to run free, occasionally even the pigs, the kittens are playing and the guard-dog is chained to a long bar along the wall of the house which allows it to move and hinder any stranger who might have found his way through the main gate to enter the house.
The grand estates, though they have been nothing else than farms before, banned all the dirt and dung producing livestock to the back of the stable or barn, where they live in a fenced area. There the space between the buildings is not longer a farmyard, but courtyard, with grass, flowers, a tree or two and small useless paths. The front side and entrance of the house (now called mansion) present themselves more noble, the plaster is always fresh whitewashed or shows even a light colour. There may be a plastered road which leads up to the front door, so that coaches can drive directly to the entrance. The stable is still where it is, but now on the side of the "courtyard" only the horses are held, where the poultry and the pics have on their dens on the outside wall.
These big fortified homesteads house a lot of people. Without the owner and his family, which is often not living there at all, up to thirty or even more persons are finding work there - the bailiff and his family, several farm labourers, male and female, maids for the farm work which has to be done in the house and house servants for the owner family.
With the need of more space, these houses needed to be quite big. With enough space available, they didn‘t build more than a full first story though, but the base area grew up to twenty peds in breadth and up to forty in length. These broad houses required a huge roof, so the number of half-storeys grew up to seven! Gables were built in the roofs to allow light in, though only towards the courtyard.
These houses are mostly build out of stone, though the stone may be covered with whitewashed plaster. On the east coast slate is used for the roofs, on the west coast tiles are common as well.
Some of these estates have a hulkroof which is quite steep and curved, distinctly looking as if a boat‘s hulk was turned upside down. Only recently erected mansions may have more full storeys, but they tend to go away from the closed form as well and set the house in a distance to the stable and barns.
The Farmhouses. Though these wooden houses have of course changed in appearance and how they have been built since the time of the Darians in 12.000 b.S., they have still much in common with them. They might have now a fundament out of stone and the walls of the ground level may be out of brick or clay, but the rest of the house is still entirely out of wood and the roof made with straw, reed or wooden shingles. At times the coloured patterns on the whitewashed walls in the rooms are the same as when the Glandorians arrived. The floor plan hasn‘t changed much, though sometimes the barn is now attached to the main house in a right angle. But the front side of the ensemble is still preferred to face to the south if possible. The reason may be, that most of their inhabitants are mainly of Darian blood, some even claim that they are pure Darians, though this may be doubted after twelve millennia. Normally the buildings are big enough to house a family, with the grandparents, maybe an uncle or aunt, a farm labourer and a maid.
What material is used depends where exactly the buildings are located. So near or in a forest where the farmer owns a patch of trees the house will be entirely out of wood. In regions where wood is scarcer due to the deforestation centuries ago and a potential house builder has to buy the boles and blanks, he may only do the roof truss out of it. Common are now as well a mixture out of wood and clay walls, or wood and brickwalls, the wood giving the stability and the clay mixed with straw or the bricks filling the spaces in-between. Sometimes the wooden structure is visible, sometimes not.
The houses are built more in an ensemble now than in old times. The upcoming wars seem to have forced the inhabitants to stick closer together and occasional the effort was made to fence the whole village (palisades). The tavern and the fire pond is now mostly in the middle of the village, the temple and quarters for a priest or two though at the rim - perhaps to allow more privacy when worshipping.
The Huts and Shags. Poor people don‘t have the choice of what kind of house they would like to own or which material they prefer. Especially those thrown out of the place where their ancestors lived for centuries, due to a war or economic reasons don‘t think about where or how to build the shelter they need. In old times those few of the Glandorians who didn‘t manage to stay close to their conquering brothers, those of early mixed blood or those who just didn‘t fit in any society were forced to take what they found - either whale bones and skin left over from the big whaling business - or any piece of wood from the next forest. Their tradition they gave to their children where not the thatched wooden houses of the farms or the stone houses, but the shags and huts out of whatever material was available. They might have gained some wealth later, but their houses didn‘t show any of the above described characteristic features.
The best example are the settlements on the Mithral Coast. After the Glandorians had mixed slowly with the Darian to form the Avennorian tribe all these moved in this area who didn‘t find a place in the new society, but due to the harsh living conditions there never assembled any notable wealth. Uprooted they hadn‘t any tradition they carried with them and most of the villages and small towns from Parthanul up to Holt have more or less flat roofs, with the exception of Marduran, which was able to afford some more sophisticated buildings.
Special Features and Buildings. Stonehouses can be found elsewhere in Santharia as the houses built out of a wooden structure filled with another material. There are however three special features which are only seen in Manthria and Brendolan in regions which did once belong to the Avennorian Kingdom:
Old stories tell us, that for the first longhouse Troi Ciosa built, he used the hulk of his ship which ran aground on the shores of Ghish-raa (Darian name for the peninsula), the place Ciosa was built later. It was of course smashed in parts and not able to sail anymore, but lore tells, that all his man lifted it up, turned it around and put it on top of some walls erected before. This can be doubted, he might just have done it like it was done for the last millennia: If a boat or bigger vessel, be it a barek or triton was too old and insecure to be used as ship, its planks were taken apart and reused as the supporting parts of a roof. Some might have needed to be replaced with new ones, but in general they could be utilised, saving his owner a lot of costs. Or they were sold to people as a cheap surrogate for new wooden boles who wanted to build a shag, a barn or even a house, thus bringing in money as well. This is done till today, with all sizes of buildings, but the old ship's hulks are only used for secondary structures like barns and storage houses, where it doesn't matter, if the roof leaks in places. Sometimes smaller boats can be seen on meadows, their hulk turned around and placed on a few boles, to give the cattle shelter, be it from rain or the sun.
However, once the Avennorian tribe grew with importance, influence and wealth it became fashion, to have a house with a Hulkroof, as they were called by then. It was seen as an Avennorian tradition, and now new buildings got new roofs, built in this way. This was of course more expensive than a roof with straight timbers, but the prestige gained was worth the prize.
Even more noticeable as the hulk roofs are structures out of whalebones which can be found till today quite frequently along the east coast, mostly south of Ciosa, though some are found in the north as well, but not farther up than where the Mashdai River joins the sea. It is said that in former times, in the first centuries after the landing of the "Svarring Joling", Troi Ciosa's ship, all Glandorian houses were build out of whalebones, like it is mentioned in a fragment found by Capher, a compendium-researcher, some years ago in the library of the Starcharts Astrendum:
"The Avennorians' houses near the sea are dome shaped whale boned structures covered with whale skin. In the towns and central land areas their houses are dome shaped whale boned structures chinked with stone or wood and covered with moss or sod. Some of the houses especially the ones owned by the wealthier people are ornately covered with the insides of oyster shells, which reflect the sun and give off a rainbow of colours. The King's palace is completely covered with such shells inside and out. All of the houses have windows made of finely crushed shells on top of their houses to allow the sun to warm and show off the home."
Now researchers assume, that this is only the imagination of a collector of historical based myths, not an accurate description of how the Glandorians built their houses, nor how their king lived. The knowledge how to do windows out of finely crushed shells is lost as well - if they existed at all.
Today these whalebone structures are rarely used as living quarters, and if, only by the poorest part of the population. Most times they serve for storage and working purposes along the coast, where the wind carries the smells away more easily, which are part of the whaling business. The flensing docks near Klinsor are probably the most famous example, being the biggest of their kind. They are around two peds high and up to five in diameter, of dome shaped structure, but one connected to the next, so that long halls are formed in which the business takes place.
Shells and other
Prized are the Avennorian houses because of their decoration with the shells of oysters, the highly prized pearlfather of the trysters and all the embellishing substances and material made out of crushed or less perfect shells.
The most valuable and perfect shells are only used inside the houses, as decoration around windows and door frames in the visitor room or the main living rooms if the owner can afford it. The mantelpiece may well be loaded with pearlfather shells as some of the furniture. In wall panels or the filling of doors often a prepared, formerly not so perfect shell of oysters is used. The chalky outside of the shells are removed with certain dangerous liquids till the shell itself loses all its stiffness and can be pressed to a flat shimmering piece. Many are glued carefully together, so that a magnificent plane piece of pearlfather is formed which is put on a support, most often a thin wooden plate. What could not be used for these panels is crushed till it is a fine powder, then mixed with a special kind of glue and used as a weather tight paint on the granite outside of the house. This pearlfather paint looks especially nice on the darker varieties of the granite like it is used in Ciosa and neighbouring big towns. It adds a light shimmer to the dark appearance which is a beautiful sight when the sun shines after a short shower. One building in Ciosa excels with the use of this paint: The Starcharts Astrendum has not its walls, but its roofs covered with this colour, the slates of the big central dome as well as the main two towers and the plenty little ones. A mirrored ray of the Injèrá from the central dome might well be the first glimpse a ship approaching Ciosa gets of the town.
To compare the shell-decoration of the Avennorians with another of their customs - the carvings and wooden decoration of the houses in the interior of the country may for some seem like the comparison of a beautiful Centoraurian horse with a brinn‘sy of the Ráhaz-Dáth. But a Centoraurian horse might look strange in the wilderness of the desert, so the shell ornamentation would be off on a wooden farmhouse. However, the carvings like those in Shneerin as the light planks and slender boles in the gable of the many wooden houses, which were added in a way so that they form rectangles, triangles and so on, have their own beauty - and a functionality the shell-covert beauties of the towns and estates lack.
Information provided by Talia Sturmwind