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Both Britons and Anglo-Saxons were accustomed to constructing great ditched and banked linear earthwork dykes, though.Offa's Dyke is the most astonishing of all the engineering feats of this period, comparable in grandeur of conception to Hadrian’s Wall.Much more impressive must have been the 23-metre-long timber hall built within the old granaries at Birdoswald Roman Fort on Hadrian’s Wall.

There is much archaeological evidence that grand secular buildings were also of wood.An Anglo-Saxon poet wondering at the ruins of a Roman city (perhaps Bath) called them ‘enta geweorc’ – the ‘work of giants’.It seemed incredible that they could be the work of mere men.The tower of St Peter’s Church, Barton-upon-Humber, dates from about 1000.The triangular heads of the windows towards the top of the tower are typical of Anglo-Saxon architecture, while the decoration with vertical stone strips is a technique derived from timber buildings. The majority of Anglo-Saxon churches, however, were originally wooden buildings – although many, as at Wharram Percy Deserted Medieval Village, North Yorkshire, were later rebuilt in stone.

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The practice of 5th-century ‘architecture’ was largely a matter of patching up or reusing existing buildings.

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