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Heritage & traditionPatrimoine bâtivillagesLe village de VernamiègeArchitectural Heritage - Vernamiège

Architectural Heritage - Vernamiège

The rural heritage and environment is one of the most varied areas of traditional society. The multi-faceted heritage reflects the capabilities and knowledge of generations, and reveals their genius for invention and adaptation.

The charm of our traditional villages rests in the harmony of materials and form seen in the houses, stables, granaries and stores which are perfectly adapted to local conditions and available building materials.  Each building has a pitched roof and its own specific use.

 

 

Housing

Primitive houses had just a kitchen and a bedroom. With time, the basic layout developed extra rooms, either by dividing existing rooms or adding new ones.

With a part wood, part masonry construction these houses are easily recognised ; the wooden part is usually on the downhill side and the roof’s ridge points downhill. Simple decoration consists of carved geometric shapes. Latin, French and sometimes German inscriptions ask for divine protection or give the builder’s name and date of construction.

 

 

La grange-écurie : Barn and Byre

The grange-écurie is the most basic farm building. Foundations often consist of just a layer of rocks which keep the wood above ground level.

Many byres are partially underground with just the downhill wall showing.  The barn built above the byre is of wooden construction, with the beams assembled roughly to allow air to circulate.

For various reasons, in particular the difficulty of transporting hay, not all the fodder could be kept in one single barn. For this reason barns were built away from the village in the middle of the fields. The cattle were moved from one byre to another as hay supplies were exhausted.  

 

 

Le raccard (granary)

The raccard or granary is the most typically Valaisan building.

Built on stilts to keep out rodents, it is the largest farm building. Easily identified by the threshing floor which projects from the front wall, the only part of the building carefully constructed from tightly fitted planks so no grain would be lost. The walls are made of rough beams to allow air to circulate.

The basement of the granary can be either stone or wood, roughly finished and acting as a shelter for sheep, which are very resistant to the cold.

 

 

Le grenier (seed store)

The grenier is the smallest building built, like the granary, on stilts.

The beams are planed square and carefully assembled with small ventilation holes. There is more than one door – often four. It acts as a seed store, as well as storage for Sunday clothes and other valuables.

The number of doors shows the number of joint owners who colaborated in the construction, just as mules were part-owned and granaries shared...


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