A few people have been asking us why we stick a bit of a random branch onto the top of our frames. Well it’s a very old tradition practised across Europe and the Americas – and it is still practised today by a few Timber Framers. Historically there was a whole ‘Topping-Out Ceremony’ held when the last, top-most beam is placed on the roof. It was customary to thank the workforce and all involved for their work so far and to celebrate with a meal and drinks for all the workers. Making a toast to continued success to all finished the ceremony.
Different cultures celebrate this event in different ways. The Scandinavian ceremony has it’s origins in pagan tradition as they place a leafy branch of Yew on top of a new building to pacify tree dwelling spirits. They believe the Tree Spirits may have been displaced during its construction. In some northern European countries flags and streamers are attached victory-style to wreaths of laurel to signify the achievement. In America you will still see a whole tree atop a huge steel built skyscraper and they paint the last steel beam in white to make sure you see. Many of workers sign this final beam to show they’ve worked on it.
We like to continue this lovely tradition on our builds – but on a much smaller, quieter scale. Although downing tools and celebrating all afternoon party-style as the Spanish construction workers do sometimes has it appeal….