Dec 08 2011

Earth Lodge Finished

Published by at 4:09 pm under Expeditions and Experiences

The construction of this earth lodge was started in 2009 during the Veidemann course. Birch bark supply ran short two years in a row, but finally, this year I managed to complete the thatching. It would still probably be advantageous to extend the birch bark a bit further up in order to contain more heat. For now I am using some spruce bark slabs as extra covering.

In the lower half of the walls, the three layers of birch bark are covered by turf peeled from rocks. The upper part is spaghnum moss collected in the bog.

The inside of the earth lodge still needs some fixing to be as nice as it can be. I’ll also have to make a door, but for now I’ll use a skin as covering whenever I am using the lodge.

Lessons learnt for next lodge:

  • Go smaller, the amount of raw materials needed for this structure was immense.
  • Make it round, as it will then reflect heat better.
  • Use a different solution for the top, so it is possible to close the top when the lodge is not in use.

This will probably be main camp for the fishing operations I do in the lakes during autumn. However it is too close to “civilisation” for where I want to have my winter camps.


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5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Earth Lodge Finished”

  1. Maton 08 Dec 2011 at 5:54 pm

    Hi Torjus,

    Good to see that you’ve finished the lodge. I can not see from the picture, how does the top work? Is it just an opening for entire length of the lodge? Is smoke a problem at any point?
    I’m sure building such a structure is alot of work, hope you got lots of help.
    It does look like it would make a comfortable winter place to live. Judging from what you’ve said about the location of the lodge though, you will be spending the winter in the lavvo?


    P.S. I ordered a small lavvo awhile ago, and it is scheduled to arrive soon. The plan is to set up camp near a lake where I can do some fishing, also catching squirrels(hope my deadfalls are sensitive enough) hares, scouting the location, and generally learning to live outdoors. We’ll see where it goes, but I had this desire for a long time. Your blog has been a great inspirational/motivational factor. Thanks.

  2. Torjus Gaarenon 10 Dec 2011 at 3:53 pm

    Hi Mat

    Glad you have been inspired.

    As of yet, I have only been using it with tarps covering up to about where the bark covering stops now. So I don’t quite know how the smoke will behave. But I suspect with the rather large opening (yes, along the whole length), smoke will not be a problem.

    Thankfully several people have been helping me off and on.

    I will probably be working quite a bit this winter and try paying off as much debt as possible so I can start doing this stuff full time again in a couple of years. My lavvo is also more than 15 years old now and needs a lot of repairs before I start using it again. There are a lot of ripped places on it.

    I wish you the best of luck with your outdoors life! 🙂

  3. Thomason 27 Dec 2011 at 5:50 pm

    Hey Torjus,

    it’s great to see the lodge finished, I know it’s been on your mind for a while. Some tribes here in North America used a similar elongated structure, such as the longhouses of the notheast (elongated wigwams). My understanding is that they were usually inhabited by multiple family units with their individual hearths, so depending on the overall size of the structure you could have several fires in one building.
    Do you know if the style of lodge you built was usually used in conjunction with several fires? With one fire, I’d agree that a round structure would retain heat more effectively.
    How long is your lodge overall and how many people could sleep in it?

  4. Torjuson 30 Dec 2011 at 10:46 am


    These types of elongated structures have been used all over the northern hemisphere.

    I would estimate that the lodge is 6-7 meters long. It probably was used with several fires, but if I was to use it with several fires I would build it a bit differently. Then I’d keep the supporting, vertical poles on the outside.

    With some leveling of the ground inside I think 8 adults + a number of kids could sleep quite comfortably.

  5. Kyleon 02 Feb 2012 at 9:55 am

    Nice work Torjus! I’ve been anticipating the finished product. More photos! Let’s see the inside.

    Freakishly coincidental how we started very similar projects in ’09 and only recently got photos up here…

    I too want to know how your smoke does.

    Do you know of any traditional designs for covered outdoor spaces? This is next on my list. I think I’d spend far more time in a covered outdoor cooking/crafting/gathering space than I’m apt to spend inside a primitive house. I’ve read only vague descriptions of outdoor dance halls, with brush rooves, in my region.

    And yeah, the long tule mat lodges here were also multi family affairs with multiple hearths.

    I look forward to reports on staying in the lodge.


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