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"ECW English Roof Shingles Color?" Topic

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Personal logo Flashman14 Supporting Member of TMP28 Jul 2022 3:52 a.m. PST

My reference materials seem split between either blue gray, reddish or unpainted wood. This seems driven by region?

If i had to pick one color, what would be right for most battles throughout the English Civil Wars?

Personal logo Flashman14 Supporting Member of TMP28 Jul 2022 3:53 a.m. PST

My reference materials seem split between either blue gray, reddish or unpainted wood. This seems driven by region?

If i had to pick one color, what would be right for most battles throughout the English Civil Wars?

Stoppage28 Jul 2022 5:01 a.m. PST

Depends on the area and availability of materials.

Sandstone roofs : greyish-yellow

Clay-tiled roofs : reddish?

Thatch roofs – straw: yellow, reeds: reddish-brown

Wooden shingles don't really work in the continually damp British Isles.

Google maps with satellite view might help – you can see materials used nowadays.

gbowen28 Jul 2022 5:39 a.m. PST

Dark grey for slate or grey/brown for stone are your best bet

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP28 Jul 2022 7:23 a.m. PST

Agree wood is unlikely in wood-poor 17th Century England. Thatch is a lot more common then than now, and goes gray pretty quickly, but it's a poor man's roof. Think slate or tile for manor houses and the more prosperous pubs, inns and taverns, with the possibility of lead roofs on churches.

Martin Rapier28 Jul 2022 7:36 a.m. PST


Slate in areas with access to slate. Stone in areas with access to stone. Possibly brick tiles down south where there is a lot of clay? Not sure if they made tiles then. Wood shingles are more a US thing.

If the model buildings have shingles, either grey slate/stone or reddish brown tile is fine.

Dagwood28 Jul 2022 8:33 a.m. PST

Old slates are much thicker than modern ones. Also lots of bird droppings change the colours !!

Cerdic28 Jul 2022 12:45 p.m. PST

No wood shingles in Britain, as others have said our climate is too damp!

In the 17th Century thatch was very common but clay tiles were starting to take over.

Many wargamers like to paint thatch as a nice honey/straw colour. However, it only looks like this for the first few months then it goes a sort of slightly brown-tinged grey colour. As a thatch roof will last for many years, grey is your most accurate option.

Clay tiles are usually a brick red type of colour. Not surprising really as they are made of the same material by the same process as brick. Tile was the main material used for new buildings by the 17th Century especially in towns.

Slate was popular in areas where it was mined, but expensive and heavy to move long distances.

So do your roofs grey or brick red and jobs a good ‘un…

Robert Johnson28 Jul 2022 12:54 p.m. PST

Clay tile, slate or thatch.

Tile can be reddish-brown or grey depending on the clay used.
Slate is of course grey or grey-green.
Thatch weathers to a dull grey.
Sandstone or limestone were also used where they could be quarried, both would age to greys.

So, grey mostly

takeda33328 Jul 2022 11:51 p.m. PST

Good question and answers.

KeepYourPowderDry29 Jul 2022 1:00 a.m. PST

All depends upon area. Sandstone/gritstone slabs – my house has gritstone slabs, you'd be surprised how big and thick they are. Limestone isn't used for roofing as it is porous.

Slate, but not as we now think of it. Effectively big stone slabs.

Red terracotta roof tiles.


Absolutely no wooden shingles

Field boundaries are the same. Little hedging where I live, boundaries are all dry stone walls.

Robert Johnson29 Jul 2022 2:25 a.m. PST

{limestone isn't used}

It is in the Cotswolds. In fact there are companies still making dressed limestone roofing tiles.

KeepYourPowderDry29 Jul 2022 3:21 a.m. PST

Cotswold roofing stone is oolitic limestone which whilst technically a limestone is really a mudstone, and has more in common with sandstone than a true limestone. It is golden in colour and isn't porous – so very much more sandstone than limestone. True limestone is grey/white and porous.

Not all Cotswold stone is suitable for roofing either – needs a higher proportion of mud

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP30 Jul 2022 9:00 a.m. PST

Thank you all! I'd seen clay tiles from Roman sites in Britain, but I was hedging when it came to the 17th Century. I shall modify my pulls from the Building Bin accordingly.

Side issue with limestone. I was born and bred in Indiana, and it's our native building stone--but as Keep says, porous. We don't use it for roofing. It also has a (very slight) tendency to dissolve. Not serious from a building standpoint, but all those complex natural cave networks so beloved of D&D players are limestone--huge solid blocks, dissolving as water passes through them.

sidley31 Jul 2022 3:01 p.m. PST

Looking at villages in Hampshire, grey slate colour seems prominent. I walked the Cheriton battlefield this weekend and absolutely true that the thatch is a dark grey.

takeda33331 Jul 2022 5:43 p.m. PST

What an amazing community! A treasure trove of information. Thanks to all for your informative posts.

La Fleche05 Aug 2022 3:56 a.m. PST

Are you sure about the no-wooden-shingles-in-Britain thing?

Making shingles:
YouTube link
Laying shingles:
YouTube link

KeepYourPowderDry05 Aug 2022 9:18 a.m. PST

Yes, sure. Our climate is much too damp for a start. Shingles are fine in drier climates such as Scandinavia, central and southern Europe and the US. I know that doesn't make much sense as it rains/snows rather a lot in some of those places; but in comparison to those other parts, Britain is constantly damp even when it isn't raining or snowing.

Shingles, or rather shakes, need to be made from hardwood – something that was in short supply. Hardwood was used for structural building and ship building. Wonder why we have timber framed buildings with mud/plaster walls? Not enough wood. I was shocked to learn that there is more woodland cover now in the UK than there has been since the early middle ages. The majority of C17th woodland was coppiced for charcoal and firewood. Decent sized hardwood timber was at a premium – you aren't going to use it on your roof, when better cheaper materials are available.

Rooves, except for the super rich, were made from what ever was plentiful and cheap (better still free) locally – hence thatch and stone slabs. Terracotta roof tiles expensive so mostly the preserve of those who wanted to flaunt their wealth.

The people in those very interesting YT videos, thanks for sharing by the way, are utilising hand building techniques. Just because it is hand built without modern tools doesn't necessarily mean that it is 'traditional' or 'historical'.

French Wargame Holidays06 Aug 2022 7:38 a.m. PST

Clay tiles were very common from the 15th century with King Edward IV in 1477 to pass an Act of Parliament laying down their minimum size. After the great fires in 1666 no thatch buildings were permitted in London and a boom of imported pan tiles from Flanders occurred.

Slate and stone were also in use along with thatch in the country side. Timber shingles would be rare I suspect


Die Engelsman21 Sep 2022 6:33 a.m. PST

Remember that clay tiles darken after a few years to an almost black-brown. Both clay and stone roofs also become speckled with lichen fairly quickly. Lichen is typically grey-green or a dirty golden-yellow.

Stoppage02 Nov 2022 5:27 a.m. PST

Thread necro:

Flemish tiles in Fife, Scotland:

St Andrews Uni : Crowsteps in file (Flemish tiles)

Nice place to visit with many pan-tiles roofs – Culross, Fife, Scotland:

Wiki – Culross Palace, Fife

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