Back to: I have a new book cover | Forward to: Catching a Blighty

Making history personal

When was the oldest building you have ever slept in built?

(And what is the oldest building you've ever been in?)

I'm in Oxford, where last night I gave a talk to the Oxford University SF Society. They kindly put me up overnight in a room in Merton College, and it suddenly occurred to me to wonder whether it's the oldest building I've ever slept in. Merton College itself was founded in 1264, although the room in question is located in a building on one of the inner quads that looks to be a lot newer—Tudor or more recent (although built no later than the 18th century, going by the condition of the stonework).

I've visited Mycenae and iron age hill forts in the UK and ancient ruins in Jerusalem and Istanbul, and mediaeval monasteries in Japan. But it suddenly struck me that, even where such ancient buildings are still standing and functional (as with the monastery), we seldom inhabit them.

So, as a matter of interest ... what's the oldest building you've slept under the roof of? And, for context, what's the oldest building you've been inside (but not necessarily slept in)?



Oxford probaby scores for my "oldest slept in" too, although similarly hazy. The college I attended dates back to around the late 13th / early 14th century, but the website is vague about the exact age of the buildings and in any case I never had a room in the very oldest-looking part. So probably somewhere around 15th-16th century. (The library is a converted twelfth century Norman church, but I certainly never slept a whole night in there although I may have dozed off from time to time)

What does being "in" a "building" mean? Does it still have to have the original roof? I've been "in" neolithic huts in Sardinia where the walls were still around shoulder height, but they most certainly weren't still habitable buildings.

Shortly after I moved to Bavaria I visited the "oldest continuously inhabiteed settlement in North America" - a Hopi pueblo in New Mexico - and proudly explained to one of the locals that at home "I drink beer from a brewery older than this".


Sleep... hmmm... my grandparents house, which is from somewhere around 1900-1920, not sure.

Been inside... probably the Tower of Hercules in A Coruña. Its Roman, and it was around during the 2nd century already.


Oldest building I was in that is still in active use (unlike - say - Roman, Egypt or Greek ruins) - probably our local church which started as stone watchtower over an important north-south European salt trading route in the 8th century.

Slept in - my Grandfather's farm house, which was built sometime in the 16th century.


I used to live in one of the buildings adjacent to the square where the Stockholm Bloodbath took place in 1520. The building is rumoured to go back to the 1350s, however I cannot confirm that notion.


Been inside: Skara Brae, Maeshowe, and another Neolithic chambered tomb whose name I forget on Orkney, all dating to circa 3000 BC.

Slept in: probably 17th century, either an old farmhouse B&B in the Lake District or one of the buildings currently used as accommodation by Durham University (the conference I attended wasn't based in Durham Castle unfortunately, or I could have claimed 12th century!)



Slept in - Actual Tudor house in England (actual year not known by me).

Been in, for values requiring a roof:-
Any artifical struture - Barpa Langass, a Bronze Age burial cairn
A building intended at least partly as a dwelling house and still capable of use as same - Various Norman castles, mostly in North Wales, and then Provands Lordship in Glasgow.
Partly natural structure altered by human activity - Great Orm copper mines.


Taking the opposite tack, I was on a road trip round British Columbia a few years ago, and visited a building claimed with some fanfare to be the oldest building in British Columbia. It was built some time in the1840s, about the same age as my perfectly ordinary terraced house.

I've spent time in many ancient universities, but I'm a firm believer in the principle of using the modern part. You're warmer, obviously, and have access to C20th plumbing and cabling, but the big win is that you get lovely views of the attractive old parts and don't have to look at the lurking concrete monstrosity you're inside.

(Much in the same way that the best views of Paris are to be had from the top of the Tour Montparnasse, because it's the only place where the view isn't spoiled by the Tour Montparnasse.)


"...Great Orme copper mines."


Been inside - the foundations of Colchester Castle, which date back to just after 43CE, when they were the foundations of the Temple of Claudius.

Slept in - pretty sure it's the Hartington Hall youth hostel which apparently dates back to the 17th century.


Oldest slept-in.... uhm, I feel guilty at what looks like a brag, now; our home in Belgium, year 1647.

Been in, considerably older: the passage tomb at Newgrange in Ireland. My device is being balky at the moment, otherwise I'd look up dates - 3500 years ago? Or 3500 B.C.E.? Feeling like a dolt at the moment. But, to make one smile... a corbelled stone roof, through which the rain has never leaked, in all that time.

Crazy(whose dear hubby has taken to reading the carpenters' marks in the beams of local places - quite a few pubs, etc. and declaring, "Nope! Not *our* guys' work...")Soph


I work at a Cambridge College, the original buildings were built for its founding in 1596 though my office is in a 1920s block. The Elizabethan buildings were given a Victorian cement render so don't look their age. The cellars date back to the priory that was on the site previously and are probably from the late 1200s.

I grew up on the edge of Dartmoor and have visited a lot of the bronze age settlements there, but none of my overnights on the moor were in one which seems a shame in retrospect. Off hand I can't think of aywhere I've slept that's older than late Victorian though in some cases (eg farmhouses) there has been a dwelling on the site for a very long time that has been rebuilt repeatedly.


A friend of mine is a chorister at Windsor Castle, and has an apartment there which wikipedia tells me was built in the 1490's. Here's a view out of the window when I last stayed. His daughter is presumably going to grow up thinking that it's entirely normal to live in the same castle as the queen, and to have armed police guarding your front gate.
My local pub back home partly dates from the C16, and I've slept there, as long as 'drunken stupor' counts as sleep...

I think the oldest house I've actually lived in for any length of time is less than one hundred and fifty years old, my current house shows up on an 1874 map, but not on an 1855 one.


Well... Which part of the building counts? The roof is C18 or C19, and the upper half of the wall of my bedroom C17, while the lower half is C15, as are the walls of the living room, except for the street facing one, which is C19 -- and then, the cellar of our house is C12.

The oldest building I've ever been in was no doubt the Ħaġar Qim temple on Malta -- 3600-3200 BC.


Oldest I have been in is undoubtedly the Pyramid of Khafre in Egypt, dating to 2500 BCE.
Oldest slept in is probably my aunt and uncle's house in Guernsey, parts of which date back to about 1550 CE.


Oh, I've just remembered, when they were digging the pit for the septic tank for the house I grew up in, they unearthed a Roman era burial which is now in Gloucester museum, so I guess there's been a settlement there from at least the same era, but that's probably true of most of England.


Inside - stone age tombs if they count as buildings, otherwise Greek or Roman depending where you draw the line between "ruin in good condition" (or for Pompeii, "buried remains which have been uncovered") and "building". The Pantheon in Rome might be the oldest definitely still an intact building.
Inside intact building which people lived in - Tower of London.
Slept - an Elizabethan farmhouse.


How do you age a Cappadocian cave (currently equipped as backbackers) - year of first white-washing?.
Have been 'in' would likewise be Mycenae, and iron age hill forts in the UK

Been in, considerably older: the passage tomb at Newgrange in Ireland. My device is being balky at the moment, otherwise I'd look up dates - 3500 years ago? Or 3500 B.C.E.? Feeling like a dolt at the moment. But, to make one smile... a corbelled stone roof, through which the rain has never leaked, in all that time.

Newgrange ( is 3200 B.C.E.

Oldest building I've been in, would be St. Declan's Chapel, in Ardmore, not that there's much left of it. That dates from around the advent of Christianity in Ireland, which was the 400's C.E.

I've been in the Round Tower near there too, which is from the 1200's according to,_County_Waterford.


There used to be a pub in my town that was built in 1109. I pass out in it once, does that count?


The house I lived in through my teens has been there since before there were papers to prove it, and nobody seems to know when it was built.

With the SCA, I've slept in a few castles and other structures, going back to the mid-1200s.

I've cat-napped in some very old churches, mostly during dull services, but that probably neither counts nor beats the castles. I HAVE had a brief snooze under a dolmen during my hitch-hiking years - it was raining, the dolmen was dry, and I was knackered. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

I've been in Newgrange-era structures all over Ireland, which might or might not be older than the dolmen.


Slept in, probably Langley Castle in Northumberland, now a hotel. Built in 1350.

Been inside, depends how you count "buildings". Font de Gaume cave in France had human habitation around 17,000 BC. Newgrange in Ireland was built around 3,200 BC.

My Cambridge college was built in 1980, so no help there.


Oldest building I've slept in is Roch Castle keep in Wales, now refurbished as a guest house - it dates from the late 12th century, and boy is it damp!

Oldest building I've entered - I guess cave dwellings in France are not really buildings, and I'm not sure that the Pyramide of Menkaure really counts either - it is a built object, but basically a mausoleum, but if not that then probably the Temple of Augustus in Pula, Croatia (ca 16BC).


I've stayed in a Cambridge college, although how old that bit of the building is I don't know. Also a hotel that claimed to be a 16th century inn.

In Egypt I visited a coptic church that is reported to be 7th century and still (or again) in use. It's clearly a church and pretty damn old, that's for sure.

Also in Egypt, Temple at Karnak, Pyramids etc. although the Pyramids are more monuments than buildings with a function, and Karnak is a tourist site.

And yes, the Pantheon in Rome is in good shape (126 AD according to the Wikipedia), and it's metamorphosis from temple to church means it has essentially the same use.

Neil W


Scratch the above. I've also been to La Roque Saint-Christophe in France, which is a cave-town carved into a hillside that was in continuous occupation (until a few centuries ago) for somewhere between 25,000 and 55,000 years, depending who you believe. But in any case, older than Newgrange or Font de Gaume.


Slept in depends on how continuous the existence of said building has to have been since its inception. I've slept for two weeks in a castle that supposedly dates back to 1138 (in the sense of "first mention in a document") but apparently was "badly damaged in a fire" in 1841 and "rebuilt" afterwards. No idea how that counts.

Otherwise, the house I currently live in was apparently built sometime in the mid 18th century or thereabouts (but the landlord didn't know for sure). Classic south-German city center "Fachwerkhaus".

"Been in" .. uh gosh .. probably something Roman or other ..


Slept in:

Morpeth Castle and Wolveton Gatehouse tower, former 1340s, latter "probably 14th C". Both Landmark Trust buildings, so renovated in the 20th C.

Been in:

In Egypt, the Great Pyramid, the Temple at Karnak, a tomb in the Valley of the Kings and the Abu Simbel Temple.

In the UK, I've been inside Wayland's Smithy on the Ridgeway, which is supposed to date back to 3460-3400 BCE. It's interesting to note that people still regard it as a sacred place connected with death - every time I've been there, there have been flowers or other offerings in memory of people who have died elsewhere.


Living in Rome, I got some advantage here ;-)
Do you think the Colosseum is old enough?
If instead we want to only focus on buildins which are still whole and used, there's the Pantheon, which not only is a museum but is still used as a Catholic church (although only in special occasions); its age is about the same as the Colosseum.
However, I'm sadly lacking in the "oldest building I've slept in" department. Nothing special here.


I think it would have to be Merton College for me too. The Rose Lane and Holywell Street accommodation is quite new, but in my 3rd year I had a set on Front Quad.

Oldest building I've been inside without question is the Hagia Sophia in Istanbull, constructed 537 and in continuous use since.


The house I was born in –Herengracht 234 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands– was built in 1614. I lived there with my parents until I was three years old.

The oldest building I've been in is Newgrange in Ireland. A neolithic passage grave built in 3200 BC, it is older than Stonehenge or the Pyramids.


Just remembered, I may have been in a presently inhabited dwelling older than the pyramids.

I've had tea in a cave house in Sefrou, Morocco. These are houses built over the entrances to natural limestone caves which are used as additional living space. The cave is not exactly a building, but it is definitely inhabited. Given that human remains at least 160,000 years old have been found in Morocco, these caves might have been inhabited on and off for a very long time indeed.

Conversely, I grew up in Edmonton, Canada, a city of half a million people which barely existed 100 years ago. The oldest building that still stands is the Strathcona Hotel from 1891.


I work at a Cambridge College, the original buildings were built for its founding in 1596 though my office is in a 1920s block

Ah, one of the new ones *grin*

(I shall now ignore any Peterhouse folk)

Mine was founded a good century earlier, but got redeveloped extensively in the 1670s, so probably doesn't count for oldest place I've slept, which I think may have been in the now-inappropriately-named New College in Oxford. On the other hand, it gets difficult: quite a few buildings just seem to have been there forever. The oldest place I've lived in was supposedly built in the aftermath of the Spanish Armada.

The oldest place I've (well, we've) considered owning was 16th Century, but although it was a lovely place it was deeply impractical for anyone with books, as none of the walls were vertical.

(Instead we ended up going entirely against our intentions and buying a late 20th Century house, making it the newest place I've lived.)

The oldest building I've been in that is still in active use would probably be Roman — the amphitheatre in Arles is still used for its original purpose of entertainment involving people and animals: it's occasionally used as a (French-rules) bull ring. On the other hand, it did get used for other things in its history.


I was at Jesus College, Cambridge, and lived in a Tudor building during my first year. Last year I went back - my son had an interview - and stayed overnight in a (the?) college guest room, which is in the oldest part of the college - twelfth century. It was cold, but it felt wonderful - honestly, it felt like coming home.

Oldest structure: probably Pentre Ifan, 3500 BCE. Looking at other comments 3500 BCE seems to be a bit of a terminus post quem generally - although La Roque Saint Christophe has us all beat.


I guess "building you've been in" rules out some of the obvious contenders live Stonehenge, Woodhenge and the like. There's some mesolithic barrows though of uncertain date down in Cornwall though.

My folks are visiting at the moment and telling embarrassing stories. Apparently I fell asleep as a baby in Maiden Castle (Dorset) and the pram rolled down the hill, which is more embarrassing to them than me. That's 600BCE but not sure it counts as a building I slept in really. I've certainly slept, although not overnight, in Salisbury Cathedral (built 1220 - 1258) and I've dozed in St. Olave's, York (established about 1055) but again not slept overnight. From where I'm sitting I watched the fireworks at St. Peter's on Tuesday. The boarders there, some of them could have most of you beat - in principle they might have slept in a building from 627. Although I think most of the dormitories are actually newer.


Not counting remains of buildings, probably either the Tower of London or St Alban's Cathedral (both buildings dating to around 1070).

Slept in - having more difficulty with this one. Probably 17th or 18th Century former stately home.

Its totally possible I've slept in buildings with older structures incorporated into the fabric, not sure if that would count though...


Sometimes it's hard to tell the "age" of a building. For example "Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese" (a pub just off Fleet Street, London) was rebuilt 1667, just after the Great Fire. The pub, itself, goes back to the 1500s and the cellar (which forms part of the pub; I've eaten and drank in it) goes back to the 13th century.

(I use this pub as a joke when Americans talk about their old buildings; "I drink in a pub which was _rebuilt_ before your country was even founded").

The backgarden where I grew up was a 100AD Roman rubbish tip (we found coins and pottery when digging in it), but I guess you don't go "in" that :-)


Slept: wood-slab farmhouse in the wilds of Norway, 1667. I only barely fit in the bed, diagonally.

Been in: Underneath the wailing wall in Jerusalem, 3000 BCE or so.


Ah, one of the new ones *grin*

Last of the old Colleges I think is the preferred term! 200 year gap to the next one...

The College had been given two farms somewhere up north in the distant past. Around 1850 the land was found to be mostly held up by coal which paid for the rendering and embellishments on the Tudor buildings, the new interior for Hall and a new chapel among other things.


That was a 12th century house in the town of Usez in france. years ago I went there with some friend for a holiday. Outside looking like a blind wall on an old very narrow alley, inside you entered an other world. It was a cavelike, big room with a high rotond ceiling and some other rooms like galeries around the big room. All rough structures, it looked like nothing had changed since it was build, Not true probably but it felt like that. The fascinating thing about were the ornaments, like iron rings in the walls (for cattle?), or a big iron hook in the ceiling where presumably a lamp was hung. There were lots of these things around, mostly pieces of iron sticking out of walls. No idea where they were used for. There also was a high walled courtyard, with low doors in it. All doors were very low and we were constantly bumping into them.
It was a very nice place to stay for a while (it was very cool in the summer heat!) and Usez is a lovely town.


Amazing the way you guys can toss around centuries like that... I live in Brazil and the oldest buildings I can (and have) visited around here are from the 1600s. Really amazing churches in fact, but awfully new from an "old world" perspective.

Visited some medieval and roman buildings in England, Spain and Portugal too - the oldest one was probably from 400 bc.


I used to cut through your place on occasion, though I suspect it's trickier to do so these days. I suspect I'd have to dig out my Cam Card.

Yeah, college foundation was interestingly sporadic. Five colleges between 1326 and 1352, then none till 1441 when they went back to a new one every decade or so for a couple of generations.

Catz was never a particularly rich place, being a child foundation of King's and wedged between it, Queens', Corpus and the CUP. Nice and central though.


I suspect you mean Uzès - a nice town, I do quite like it, though I've not been there since before I was married. I've stayed with family friends in a couple of places in the surrounding villages, and yes, there's a primitiveness there that speaks of the ancientness of that landscape as somewhere that's been inhabited for a couple of millennia. There are modern buildings too, but it's not had the population explosions that the more prosperous north has had, so a decently large proportion of the buildings are the solidly built (and as you mention, very effectively cool in summer without A/C) places that go back centuries.


"The difference between an American and a European is that a European thinks that 100 miles is a long distance while an American thinks that 100 years is a long time." Anon.


Oldest building I've slept in was probably a B&B that dated back to the 1920's.

Oldest building I've been in was the Tower of London, so, 11th century.


Should I admit this, or will my archaeological friends disown me?

One night about 20 years ago it wasn't locked. And I was waiting for the midwinters alignment in nearby Newgrange.
These days its much better protected.

No, I wasn't taken by the fairies, honestly.


We sort of have a cap on this over in the U.S. Any building that's fit to be inhabited by human beings can't be more than 300 years old. I stayed in a Bed and Breakfast in Charleston, South Carolina, that claimed to be from the post-bellum period (much of Charleston was razed after the Civil War), so probably around the 1880s I'd guess.

When I was younger, my family took a trip to Ireland and stayed in a hotel that used to be a manor house there, so that was probably significantly older.

The oldest building I was ever in was the kiva at Mesa Verde National Park. The archaeologists there estimate that was inhabited between the years 600-1300, so that's a pretty wide range.


Oldest building visited: Joseph Schneider Haus, in Kitchener, Ontario (completed 1816; currently in use as a museum).

Oldest inhabited site visited: Southwold Earthworks, southwest of London, Ontario. Occupied c. 1450 - 1550 CE. According to Wikipedia, its estimated population was 800-900 people. All that's left are some low hillocks where the walls used to be. It gave me food for thought: what will my house (built between 1940-50) look like in 2500 CE? Probably not much better. [assuming that it isn't razed and have something else build there-- which is probably what will happen].

Not much in comparison with Europeans, I know.

What about the sites you visited in Japan, Charlie? How do they compare?


Oldet building I've ever slept in? The Pagliazza Tower, a Byzantine tower dating from the Gothic Wars, oldest intact building in the center of Florence, now part of the Brunelleschi Hotel, two hundred feet from the Duomo.

Oldest building I've ever been *in*? Probably the Erechtheion in Athens, finished 406 B.C.E. No, strike that - I've walked in the throne room at Cnossos and through the streets of Akrotiri - so, um, probably 1500 BC? Thirty-five hundred years old, then.


I can beat most of these - I've slept in an 11th century castle, now a youth hostel on the England-Wales border:

I guess the oldest manmade structures I've been inside have been prehistoric barrows in Wales - no idea how old they were, as it was years ago.


King Street gate now needs your University Card to be on the list, although there's a phone release the regular delivery drivers can use. Still easy enough to wander in through the main gate opposite Sainsburys for a wander round Hall Court and Chapel court though.


Well the oldest provenly occupied sites here (round house built by digging a pit, lining with dry stone walls and adding a roof using wood beams and thatch, now lost) probably date to 6_000 BCE or so (sources include Cardiff, Durham and Southhampton Universities' depts of Archaeology).


I had a lovely afternoon snooze in the amphitheatre at Pompeii if that counts. If it has to have a roof, then I've fallen asleep during services in several cathedrals, the oldest I think being Wells, which was built by 1490. Or the oldest I've spent the night in was I think the mill in Winchester, which served as a youth hostel for a few decades. That was built in 1744.

The oldest I've lived in was my boarding prep school, the main building of which was built two years later in 1746.

The oldest buildings I've been inside were also at Pompeii, I expect. I don't count caves or places like Stonehenge.


I was once climbing in the Peak District with some Americans, when one of them got all excited about some graffiti half way up a cliff that was older than their country.


Oldest building I've slept in? My present house. It's part of what was originally the stable block belonging to the adjacent castle. Obviously lots of it has been altered, but the thick granite walls are unchanged. Nobody seems to have definitively dated the stables, but the landowner says they're probably 16thC.
Parts of the castle date back to the 12thC, which makes it the oldest building I've been in.

(No sign of any ghoulies, ghosties or other creepiness, I'm afraid. Even though there's been at least one murder in here; in the 70s a man was poisoned in the kitchen, a yard away from where I'm typing.)


Oldest building slept in: Castle Levan in Gourock, portions dating to the 14th Century.

Oldest building entered: probably Edinburgh Castle.

By far the oldest buildings I've been around were visited during my honeymoon in Scotland. Obviously we've got nothing here in the States to compare; here probably the oldest building I've been in dated from the 1800s.


Oldest building slept it: probably the Fairlawn Hotel (1783) in Calcutta

Oldest building entered: Purana Qila in Delhi (dating back potentially to ca. 3000 BCE, probably at least to 1000 BCE, rebuild by the Mughals in the 1500s)


Given the places you name, did you visit Dumbarton Castle? The present fortifications vary in date between Tudor/Stewart and WW2, but there are known foundations in the cleft between the two tops which are Neolithic.


I live in the US, so oldest building I've slept in is one of the original dormitories at the University of Virginia, circa 1819. (Unless dozing off during a lecture at Harvard counts.)

Oldest building I've been in is a tie between residences at Pompeii and the Colosseum.


Given that I haven't left the Americas, I'd say the oldest building I've slept in is from the 1920s or 1930s (landmark buildings in Berkeley, or national park hotels put up by the WPA in the 1930s).

As for the oldest building, I don't count the reconstructed Egyptian temple at the Met in New York, nor do I count the Cloisters, since they've all been rebuilt on their present sites. Absent these, the oldest buildings I've been in were built by various Puebloan peoples around the 10-12th century in Arizona and New Mexico.

Oh well. Perhaps it's the American advantage that we bulldozed the continent's deep history when we over-ran the place. Where I live, archeologists get excited over 3000 year-old piles of rock flakes from where someone sharpened his knife.


As an American who hasn't travelled much, this isn't a fair question. but here goes.

Slept in is probably the house I live in now, built around 1890. It's in Colorado, so there aren't too many buildings much older.

Been in would be the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, Florida, begun in 1672. My brother and I spent a lot of our childhood summers running around there when our father was a reenactor. The old powder magazine was a nice cool spot on summer days. This photo threw me for a moment; the man near the cannon muzzle strongly resembles my father--as he was in the late 80s, but since it was taken with a digital camera it can't be.


There is a range of categories in this, I reckon. Places you visit as a tourist for the purpose of visiting that place are, in a sense, not functional buildings, but "tourist attractions".

Visited to visit building: (Newgrange (3200 BCE), ruins of Tarxien temples (3150 BCE), numerous churches and cathedrals and castles from 7th century onwards.

Spent time in for other purpose: Norderö church (1172 CE), Cressing Temple barns (13th century CE).

Slept in: Ruins (Does that count? Probably not, it has no roof.) of Lindisfarne Priory (11th century CE), Old Bull Inn (16th century CE), Melbourn Bury (16th century CE).

Lived in: While we were renovating the "new house" (built mid 19th century) on my grandparent's old farm in Sweden, we were living in the "old house" (1667 CE) for half a year. The "old house" had last been renovated in 1911, so had no running water or heating, and the chimney was too leaky to let us use the fireplace. We did get electricity jury-rigged in, though, so we had lights in the evenings.

In general, I don't really consider buildings built after, say, the 17th century or thereabouts old, per se. I mean, they're old, but nothing special. Plenty of buildings around from that time, in both wood, and stone.


I once dozed off in the great temple at Abu Simbel. Does that count?


The oldest I've been in was West Kennet Long Barrow which is listed as 3400BC.
Slept in? Well it was either the cottage we stayed in inside the stone circle at Avebury (was fully modernised anyway so no idea but had thick walls) or the Tudor Fountains Hall at Fountains Abbey.
If such things interest you, the National Trust has an odd collection of buildings attached to its properties that get let out as holiday cottages.


USAns are at such a disadvantage here....

I've been in the usual run of places that are not very old by European standards; but I can trump each and every one of you.

I have, a number of times, slept on the ground in the open air. Which makes the structure in which I slept either 4.5 billion or almost 14 billion years old, depending on what one construes the structure to be.

Neener, neener.


Regrettably we did not. I don't believe our tourguide books mentioned the place.


I once dozed off in the great temple at Abu Simbel. Does that count?

Before, or after they were moved?
Somebody had to ask.


Slept in: My uncle' previous house, built in the 1780's or so. Creepy attic bedroom with blood red paint on the walls that could not be painted over, had to be sanded back to the wood.

Been inside: Newgrange in Ireland. Or possibly Knowth or Dowth. Can't remember which of those two I actually went inside and which is oldest.


If you drove (or went by train) between Glasgow and Gourock directly, you might remember seeing a couple of craggy rocksa about 250 feet tall on the other bank of the Clyde, one by a river mouth. That is Dumbarton Castle rock. If this works, it's the bump beside the label "Bankside Industrial Estate".


Having the misfortune of being born and raised in the "New World", the oldest buildings I've slept in have all been less than 150 years old.
Probably one of the hotels I've stayed in Chicago or New York or Washington that reach back to the 1880's. Maybe a Hausmannesque hotel I stayed at in Paris was a few years older.

The oldest intact building I've been in was probably the Gravensteen Castle in Ghent which dates back to 1180. I have been to Anasazi ruins in Arizona that date back to the same period. If you count the transplanted/reconstructed temple ruins at the Pergammon Museum in Berlin, I've gone back to 800 BCE


Slept in: the Bishop's Palace in Wells, which dates back to 1210 (though the wing I stayed in was built in the 15th century).
Been in: I have a distinct memory of running in and out of a stone burial chamber, which must have been Neolithic, somewhere in Argyll (Kilmartin?) on a family holiday some 40 years ago.


Newgrange is the oldest structure I've visited. The oldest building I slept was in Amsterdam a mere three or four hundred years old. I was impressed at the time, coming from the U.S. where one scarcely finds any buildings much more than a hundred years old. I now live in a home build in 1898.


Oldest place I slept: I once lived in a 15th c. place in Venice for over 3 months. The building had suffered extensive and serial remodels over the centuries, but I was up in the attic, where some extremely original-looking beams were poised to catch anyone much taller than I. A building of the appropriate size and shape appears in that location on Jacopo de' Barberi's famous birdseye map of 1501, so I feel very safe in saying pre-1500.

Oldest place I've been in: Mausoleum of Gallia Placida, Ravenna, c. 430.


Oldest building I ever *slept* in... probably dates no earlier than about 1905, and almost certainly dates no earlier than 1720. Here in the US, it's hard to find very old buildings, though it's possible that as a boy scout I slept in a revolutionary-era building on a camping trip.

Oldest building I ever *visited*, I'm pretty sure that's the Tower of London. Did the tour, listened to the Beefeaters, watched the ravens, saw the crown jewels, tried not to think too hard about the toilets.

My wife collects ghost stories (in the sense of locally-written non-fiction folklore) from places visited by people she knows, and I got quite the score there. Also bought two copies of the game "Outrage!" from the crown jewel gift shop, because playing *that* game purchased from *that* source set my meta-sense tingling in a way I continue to find amusing to this day.

(Hm... it's *possible* that the bed-and-breakfast in Surrey that I slept in during that trip is older than my own nation, but I'm not sure how to follow up on that at this point. The bed was fine, but the breakfast was terrible.)


The oldest building I've slept in was probably the house I was brought up in, which was a Tudor (Elizabethan, I think) fisherman's cottage. Or, more accurately, a cottage and a half; it had a convoluted history.

Oldest building I've been in, I don't know, possibly one of the stately homes or cathedrals that my mum used to drag us to when we were too young to appreciate such things, or a temple in Japan or Korea. Just for the sake of naming something, I'd go for Todai-ji in Nara. Japanese temples and palaces all have more than a bit of 'The Axe of My Grandfathers' to them, though; the building presently standing on a site is often rebuilt from the remains of previous temples, so the actual building might be new while the site has been a temple for a millennium or two.


When I say 'new', I mean older than the USA. The main hall at Todaiji was rebuilt in the early 1700s.


Oldest I've slept in was Kasteel Wittem, in the Netherlands. Dates from the 11th century, don't know more precisely than that. I've visited several Roman ruins in the British Isles -- the Roman baths in Bath. I'd guess those are the oldest. Haven't really travelled widely Europe or Asia, so I can't really claim anything much older; maybe something in Japan, but I can't be sure. My wife travelled a fair amount in her student days - Greece, Italy, the Middle East, Egypt - so she may be one up on most of us as far as things she visited.

Oldest I've actually lived in for any length of time was my grandfather's house, built around 1750. Lived there till I was about 12.


It's a bit of a coincidence that I was in the Old Bull about 2 hours before your comment, paying the deposit on the hire of function rooms next spring and checking that they can do Vegan if required. Yes, you (silly swordsman, not the whole of the blog readership - sorry guys) shall be invited.

(And Melbourn Bury I've had meetings in - I didn't know they had rooms to stay in)


Lived in, our old house in Bath, probably 1650s...

Been in? Hmmm... probably in Rome, the Parthanon is fully intact 120s CE. I suspect I've been in older mind you.


The oldest building I have ever slept in is probably the farm house of a family friend which was 17th century.

The oldest building I’ve ever been in was probably one of the Neolithic sites in Orkney. Skara Brae, Maes Howe, Ibister Tomb or the Painted Building which ever turns out to be oldest.

My mum was born in Berkeley Castle.


Slept in? A Tudor house near Lacock village, early 1500's; a 13th-century farmhouse in Cabrières-d'Avignon. I've been inside the fully-intact and currently-in-use Pantheon (126 C.E.) and a number of Lycian ruins (~800-500 B.C.E) in southern Turkey.


I can't think of anything particularly old I slept in, but for old buildings I have been in, the answer is 4573 years.

As I child, I visited the great pyramids of Egypt, and at that stage you were allowed to wander around inside. Most of it consisted of climbing up and down steeply sloping tunnels using metal ladders, but once you got to the central chamber, the scale, particularly that of the stone blocks they used was awe inspiring.


I have to emend my previous @ 59.

I was going to add that I've been in the Black Watch Museum at Balhousie Castle in Perth. Built in 1631 (so older than St. Augustine), but it was rebuilt in the 1860s, so I don't count that.

Then I remembered that I've been to the Manitou Clff Dwellings, not too far from where I live. No idea when they were built, but they were abandoned around 1300 C.E.


Shoot! Should've read the whole cliff dwelling article first. They were moved to the present location a hundred years ago. Oops, nevermind.


Slept in ...
Probably: The Trumpet (Inn) near Ledbury - probably early 1thC or earlier.

Complete building, still in (occasional) use is the oldest building in Britain.
Situated at one of those strange places, when, on the right day, you cannot tell where land, sea & sky merge &/or separate.
St Peters-on-the-Wall built inside the Roman fort of Othona.

Oldest structure
Either Stonehenge or The Rollright Stones ... which used to be in private ownership & were handed over to a trust, very recently, as a means of keeping them properly.
The lady ( Still alive IIRC ) who used to own them gave a radio interview at the time ...
Said the best/most interesting even she had seen was a "pagan" wedding, which involved a lot of nudity at night.
She said it was great fun (!)


Oldest building I've slept in would be Chillingham Castle. While bits of it date back to the late 12th C., the main castle structure dates back to 1344. I've been in a few Roman buildings, though none with a surviving roof. Recently the oldest building I've spent much time in would have been my doctor's surgery, which dates back to the 16th C., though some of the waiting room magazines may be a few years younger.


My aunt owns an old rectory that appears to date back from the 12th century. Or at least parts of it, if only the cellar and foundations. The date was found while doing heavy renovation work. It's a lovely house but being a former rectory, it's next to an old church. With a clock. And a bell. A very loud bell.


While it's not the oldest structure I've been in, the oldest manmade structures I've been on are the Indian effigy mounds at UW-Madison: the youngest of these are about 800 years old, and the oldest are about 2800 years old. Alas, nothing remains of their buildings.


At a quick guess, the oldest building I've ever slept in was a 13th (?) century farmhouse in the UK that had been converted over to a B&B. Outer walls roughly two feet thick.


Ok, i admit it was after but it was the same ancient building just a few feet further up the cliff. Don't take this away from me! ;)


The oldest building I've been in are the Montessu pre-nuragic tombs in Sardinia, dated 5000 BC or so. They're spherical underground rooms decorated with spiral designs. Eerie. The oldest building I've slept in must be a 13th century monastery in central Italy.


I lived for some years in a house built around 1600 in a village (now suburb) of Freiburg, Germany. The oldest building I ever visited should be the Collosseum in Rome, or some of the other buildings of Roman times. After that: Some churches I visited were from around 1200. And if I remember correctly, parts of the silver mines in the black forest (now a museum) also stem from 1200.


Been In, sardinian nuraghe dated @1900 B.C.
Slept in, 17th century spanish hotel.


I don't want to take anything away, I'd like to see it myself. Moving it was an impressive feat. I half suspect if the dam were being built today, they might not bother.


Live in - Victorian semi-detached house, circa 1855 - I used to think it was older but I'm reliably informed I'm wrong.

Educated in - School buildings dating from 1794 onwards.

Worked in - School buildings dated from 1792 onwards, though mostly in more recent bits.

Slept in - Trinity College Oxford (1655), for an SF convention. A party in a 17th century house in Bath (forget the exact date). Camped at a Surrey site which included a disused 19th century water mill, used for cooking etc.


Oldest slept in I don't know. A building in Europe, certainly, but which is oldest (and how old it is) I don't know for sure. At least 200, possibly 300 years old, anyway.

Oldest I've been in would be the neolithic flint mines at Grimes Graves, so 4000-5000 years (depending on how old the bit open to the public is).


Oldest I've been in is probably Pantheon, built during reign of Augustus.

Oldest I slept in -- no idea, but am pretty sure nothing older then 1800.


I can't pinpoint the oldest I've slept in, but due to living all of my life so far in Canada, I would guess that the oldest would be a ~100 year old country house somewhere.

Oldest I've been in is easy: Angkor Wat in Cambodia.


I'm doing pretty good for a new-worlder on "oldest building ever slept in"; I lived for an academic year in a dormitory built in 1798.

As for the oldest building I've ever been in, it was probably an 11th-century church in Nesebar, Bulgaria. Our local tour guide claimed that it was built on foundations dating back to the Thracians, but I don't suppose that counts even if true; it seems like everything in the old world is built on top of something older after all.


In a german monastery on an island inside a bavarian lake. It was built in 782 AD.
That was the hardest and smallest bed I ever slept in.


Slept in: a trilithon, about 1600-2000 B.C. on a camping expedition up in the hills north of Glasgow. The roofstone was still in place so not derelict, technically speaking although we were in a tent. We defaced one of the uprights by carving grafitti into it, continuing an eon's (at least) long tradition -- somewhere I have pictures of the grotesque masks cut into the whinstone before Christianity came to the North. I chiselled a triode symbol, Norman did an aeroplane (the site is underneath the flightpath to Glasgow airport).

Lived in: 18th century townhouse in Worcester, converted to bedsits for an academic trust. The electricity meter took groats.


I think Roche Castle is going to be my oldest to sleep in too. Its been renovated since I (and you I guess) were last there - it is now more of an executive retreat thing - which probably means it is less damp.

As for oldest that I've wandered around then probably Knossos which dates back to 3000 odd BC.


The Crown House hotel in Great Chesterford, nr Saffron Walden, which is a 18th century coaching inn, built on a Roman wall.

I also slept in the same room once occupied by the blessed Margaret Thatcher 8-o

the oldest building I've been in for any length of time is Lincoln Cathedral [it's library specifically], which was built between 1192 and 1210AD, after the original one fell down after a earthquake.

bloody jerrybuilt cathedrals!


I did rather despair of thinking of a suitable place that might bear a sign saying " Arnold Once Slept Here " and then it occurred to me ... I was Christened, and thus I supose must have slept ..HERE...

" St Peter's, Monkwearmouth was built in AD 674 by Benedict Biscop and is one of the oldest churches in Britain, where Christians have gathered for more than 1300 years. This is a place of worship and prayer, pilgrimage and mission.... The church features an Anglo-Saxon porch and tower, with unique carved stones, including intertwined serpents, the abbot’s chair, the consecration cross, ancient burial stones, early glass fragments and stones reaching back to Roman times. An outline of the excavated Anglo-Saxon monastic building is in place in the grounds. "

Will that do? ..

You do know that Saint Arnold is ...

" Saint Arnold - Patron Saint of Brewers
"From man's sweat and God's love, beer came into the world" - St. Arnold of Metz.

Saint Arnold was born to a prominent Austrian family in the year 580. Even back in those days the Austrians were famous for their love of beer, and admired for their brewing prowess. Beer was a proud Austrian tradition that was not wasted on young Arnold.

As a young man, Arnold entered the priesthood and began moving his way up that earliest of all career ladders. At the age of 32, he was given the title Bishop, and in 612 was named "Arnold, Bishop of Metz." (Metz is in France.) "

So I was given the name of Arnold the Patron St of Beer in one of the most Ancient churches in the UK.

Dunno what was in the Chrisening Vessel Though ..if you can have Holy Water then surely Holy Ber must be possible?

Take THAT inhabitants of Oxen ford and Cam Bridge.


Oops, missed an 'e' from BEER in that previous post. I used to have a spell checker that would work in comment boxes but it seems to have gone astray in the transition to the new PC.


One night during a cross-USA trip I slept in Mesa Verde National Park, the site of an Anasazi pueblo construction started in the 7th Century or so. The part near which I was sleeping was probably built in the late 12th C.

If that doesn't count, I lived for several years in a sawmill constructed c. 1790 in rural Pennsylvania. The oldest building I've been in other than the pueblo is probably a Colonial American church or public building in either Philadelphia, where I grew up, or Boston, where I went to college.


Oldest been in - The Great Pyramid 2560BCE.

Oldest slept in - the Old Bell, Malmesbury which claims (as i'm sure others do) to be the oldest hotel in Britain @ around 1220AD - originally for guests of the Abbey next door which was founded in 675 but rebuild a third time in 1220. Nice hotel BTW.


BTW been past Paviland head's cave on a boat trip along the Gower Coast. The 'Red Lady' was buried there 33000 years ago. Some of the headlands nearby have the remains of fortifications - not sure if those were lived by the same people who did the burying.


Slept in: no idea. Been in? My regular pub when I was at school was The Fighting Cocks in St. Albans. It's one of the pubs that lays claim to be the oldest in England. It's an 11th century building on 8th century foundations.

The pub itself was a 10 minute walk from school. There was a much closer pub, but we weren't allowed in there because that's where the teachers drank.


The oldest roof I've slept under was probably a ~400-year-old townhouse in Venice. I can't be more precise than that, unfortunately—it was an apartment my sister was renting on the top floor of the building. I think the oldest building I've been in, if you count artificial caves, is the sanctuary of the Cumaen Sybil. It's not clear that that cave is the actual sanctuary, so the oldest date that can reliably be assigned to it is only a few decades B.C.E. It was rather fun trying to figure that out just now. The nearby temple of Jupiter is a bit older, but it doesn't have a roof, so I think it doesn't really count. It's possible some of the buildings I visited in Pompeii were older, but I wouldn't want to bet on it.


1. "slept" with my girlfriend under a part of the Pompeii ruins.

2. Been inside several Nuraghe in corsica (probably built around 1500BCE)

3. (Actually) slept inns dating to the 1600s or 1700s, but wouldn't know even their rough dates beyond being one of those 2 centuries.


Realizing that us in the Colonies are at a disadvantage:

Oldest slept in is my mom's house on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, circa 1780ish. Tax records go back to 1812 and no farther, as that is when the county courthouse burned up. The family was on record as having owned the land for about 20 years previous to the 1812 assessment.

Oldest been in is the circa 1644 Sturgis Library, also on Cape Cod.


Oldest building I've slept in was a postgraduate residence at the University of Edinburgh, on the Royal Mile, dating from 1690. You can imagine what fun that was during the Fringe. (Google Streetview link)


Parser ate my annotation - my room was the one directly above the passage in that streetview link. And was approximately that wide.


The oldest place I've slept in? Probably a former convent in York, Western Australia (school camp). So that's probably around the 1850s. Yeah, I know.

Look, we got European settlement here in 1829. There are outhouses in Great Britain still in use which are older than whole towns here. We know. We're Johnny-come-latelys. I think I get the award for newest oldest place, if nothing else. *sigh*

Oldest building I've been inside? Probably the Round House in Fremantle, which is the oldest building standing in WA (and dates back to about 1830/1).


It's possible I've slept in an old building at some point, but all the ones I can think of were built in the 20th.

But the oldest building I've ever been in? When I was 13, my family took a trip to Israel so I could be bar mitzvaed at the Wall, and it rained during the ceremony, so they hustled me off into the old building complex at the north end of the plaza, which I think dates back at least to Herod's time. Then I remembered that we also stopped off in Greece, and I remember visiting the Parthenon.

But then I recalled that we also saw the Palace of Minos as part of the tour. I have a pretty strong memory of seeing the Throne Room. Yeah, 15th century BC beats out the Wall and the Parthenon.


OK, I knew my wife, Jane Jewell, would have something interesting to contribute. She slept in one of the caves in Petra, which are older than the city itself, about 1500 BCE by some estimates. She's also been inside the Great Pyramid; didn't sleep there, but some of her friends slept on top of it (they bribed the guards). She also visited the palace in Knossos; she remembers seeing what was billed as the oldest flush toilet known.


Oldest slept in: A home in Toul, France. I am unsure of the age, but certainly pre-WW1.
Oldest been in: Perhaps a fort in Asia-minor constructed during the crusades. I have also been in Roman era ruins that I would say no longer qualify as buildings.


Been in:

"Grønsalen", a stoneage burial chamber from approx 3500 BC. (

Slept in:
Our local "Sct. Peders" church from late 11 century. (


Oldest building slept in will probably be the Youth Hostel in Bacharach, Germany, because they repurposed an old castle for it:

Which has probably been built around the 12th century CE.

Oldest building I've actually been in would probably involve more fact finding than a tablet at the breakfast table makes comfortable, but the Burg Stahleck (above mentioned hostel) is a good contender.


Both would be the same place - my father-in-law's house in Tennessee, which was built as a carriage house somewhere in the 1850s.

It would be one of the older buildings in the state, except developers bought the property, graded it flat, and built a convenience store on the site.

I once worked in a building in Little Rock that still had gas lamp fixtures. I just looked it up on the web; it's a historic structure now... but it was built in 1925. At the time it was built it would have been one of the largest office buildings in the state's capitol, but it was built with gas lights. Hmm...


The house where I grew up was registered in the Mailänder Kataster (done in 1718 — 1760) as a stable + barn; of course it had been renovated many times and it looked like any other oldish (=built before WWII) house with wide walls. We even had an indoor, private bathroom! (Added by my parents, in the early 1980s; everybody else in the complex still used a toilet in the courtyard.)

If what people used to say is true, waste waters from that house may have passed through parts of original roman sewers (integrated in a system of sewers that had grown organically through the ages), so my record for oldest bit of sewage system used is an unconfirmed single digit century AD :)

Oldest roof I've been under would be the Treasury of Atreus in Mycenae, ~1250 BC, oldest building still in use is probably the Pantheon, but when I visited Delphi there were people reciting in the theatre (4th century BC) and my schoolmates improvised a barefoot running competition in the stadium (5th century BC), both of which may or may not count as building or as still in use.


The oldest I've been in would probably be the White Tower at London Tower, built in 1078. I am not entirely sure since I have been dragged around European capital cities since I was about four and it's fully possible there's a Roman ruin that I am not recalling.

Dating the oldest building I've slept in carries much the same problems. The oldest I can get with any certainty is 1856 (Hotel Britannia, Manchester).


There's a bit of a spectrum between obviously built places - house and the like - and obviously unbuilt places that have been inhabited such as natural caves. Put a wall across the entrance to a cave - is that a building? Well, the wall itself is built, but it's not what is holding the roof of the cave up, so I say no.

Excavate the cave in the first place, and now it both shelters you and wouldn't have existed without you, so I would count that, even though it's not constructed by the addition of walls and ceilings, rather by the subtraction that created empty volume between.

As I understand it, Greek amphitheatres were mostly excavated from natural bowls in the landscape, and there are no internal spaces with roofs over, so I wouldn't count those. On the other hand, Roman ones were built from a flat base, so there are corridors and rooms beneath the seating areas (at least, there are in the big ones like the Colosseum and the Arles structure - not necessarily the case for provincial ones), so while they weren't primarily constructed to shelter people, they can do so.

So, I personally wouldn't count the theatre or the stadium at Delphi, though there are buildings at the site.

Your Mileage May Vary. Charlie's definition seems to include being inhabited, which is mostly bars amphitheatres and the like (though the Arles amphitheatre during the 18th century contained houses, that hadn't been its original use back when it was built in 90 AD).


Would Barry Troglodyte Village qualify? It seems like houses were used in Neolithic. Slept there numerous times for LARPing purposes. Well, actually slept a couple of hours each night since we were rather busy with epic bunkers & baddasses kind of sessions ;^)


I've no specific issues with the idea of a building posessing unusual features or notable architecture being a "historic building". Still, 3 of the 5 dwelling houses I've lived in as the householder or one of their dependants were 1918 or earlier, and one of the other 2 was 1930s.


I was born and grew up not far from the roman amphitheatre at Caerleon (fortress of the legion) where the 2nd Augusta was based from about 75AD. There's also a nice museum incorporating the excavated legionary baths. The baths came along with an open air swimming pool but I don't know if it was heated or not.

So much is adapted, restored, renovated or rebuilt that it's difficult to be sure of the age of places you've drunk, eaten or slept in. But I would reckon back to 16th century. Certainly one of the first pubs I drank in claims 1530.


I've visited and slept in Wayland's Smithy, there was something there circa 3700 BC, but the bit I slept in was constructed around 3400 BC.

Oldest building actually intended for sleeping in and still recognisable as a building, I really don't know. All castles - Saint Briavel's, Stogursey, or Durham.

I've dozed off in Saint Martin's Church Canterbury if that counts? 597AD.


Anyone who is in Nottingham for Novacon can take the chance to add a few old buildings to their drinking List.

Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, one of several old pubs.

Nearby Lincoln has a group of mid-12th Century buildings on Steep Hill, including the oldest synagogue in England (Not in continuous use), and part of the building is a bookshop. There is also Newport Arch, built by the Romans, which can keep the rain off.

I have lived most of my life in a farmhouse built somewhere around 1560.

My American cousins, when they visited, though the 19th Century was a long time ago.


Tricky. I think the oldest building I've slept in is the Dean of Canterbury's residence. I'm not sure when that dates to exactly and google isn't helping, but it has proper battlements, so it almost certainly beats Gwydir castle in North Wales or a chateau near Paris which are the other contenders that spring to mind (both C16th - although built on the foundations of older structures).

The oldest habitation I've visited will be something classical I imagine. Vindolanda is C2nd but it's been a ruin for most of the intervening time, so I'll probably plump for the Aula Palatina in Trier which has been in constant use since the C4th. I've been to the Forum Romanum and the Acropolis as well, but those are ruins of temples and public buildings rather than residences.

The oldest structure is probably the Gavrinis passage tomb in Brittany which was built ~3500 BCE.



Slept in as a tourist: I'm pretty sure this is the (cheap and nice!) hotel in Bytow Castle in Poland, dating to the late 14th/early 15th century.

Lived in: My old apartment in the centre of Utrecht in the Netherlands, I don't have an exact date but neighbouring shops had dates in the 18th century on their windows (but that's probably the *last* renovation ;-) The house I lived in after that had a big 'Anno 1909' sign, but that's quite new already.

Been in: I have no clue, I'd guess some crypt in a church somewhere. Although doing some research seems to indicate that they're currently excavating a Roman border post in the city centre, dating back to approximately 200 AD, so I should visit the dig :-)


Oh, looking forward to that.

Melbourn Bury used to be a very expensive B&B at the turn of the century. I stayed there for my first two weeks at work in England. Breakfast in the main hall was interesting, when you're all alone at a table for twenty, and the cutlery is proper silver.


Wow. You actually *slept* in Oxford? There is so much to do there, no time to sleep. Pilgrimage to the Thames settings from "Three Men in a Boat," the Ashmolean...


I slept because I was exhausted. No, seriously: I'd just done ten days on the road including World Fantasy Con (only six meetings with editors and publishers), then driven to Cambridge in pouring rain, spent a day at the Imperial War Museum aviation collection at Duxford, driven over to Oxford, given a two hour talk and Q&A to the Oxford University SF Society, gone to pub with same ... I just collapsed.

Now in Nottingham, for Novacon -- another weekend, another SF convention.


Was the pub the bird and baby/ - for non UK peeps thats the one the inklings met in.


This is a bit OT, and if inappropriate: my apologies. Does anyone have an approximate estimate of how many pre-Industrial Revolution (however defined) buildings there are in the world that are still occupied/used?


I've been in Maeshowe in Orkney (and Skara Brae) so 3000BC or so. Unlike the Vikings who sheltered there and left runic grafiti I was not sheltering from the weather, nor did I sleep there.

I've spent considerable time in the iron Age hill fort at Pilsdon Pen, which was occupied up to the Roman invasion in 43CE or so, and I'm sure I dozed off after lunch a few times, but that is less a building than a fortification.


Oldest slept in: House owned by paternal grandparents and then by parents. Dated back to at least 1849 or so; the records were lost when the courthouse burned down.

Visited: Probably something in Dubrovnik. The Medieval town was built within the wall protecting Diocletian's retirement palace. Some of the buildings date back to Diocletian's time.


If you count trace evidence of habitation I've seen 120,000 year old human footprints at Lake Natron, Tanzania. You're probably not going to find anything more substantial from that far back.

The oldest intact structure I've been in was Newgrange. The runner-up is probably the Red Pyramid at Dahshur, finished somewhere around 2590 BCE.

The oldest continuously inhabited building I've been in was probably St. Catherine's Monastery in the Sinai. The Orthodox monks have been there since 565 CE. I slept in the guesthouse, but that's a much newer building outside the compound walls.

The oldest building I've slept in was Dalhousie Castle in Scotland. The oldest intact part is mid-15th century with the majority from the mid-17th century.

The oldest building it could be said I've lived in was my grandmother's house, built c. 1860 outside Cleveland, Ohio. The house I lived the longest in was built c. 1920, which is positively ancient by Los Angeles standards.


The Great Pyramid is over 1300 years older than Abu Simbel. Listing them together is like saying the oldest building you've been in is either the Hagia Sofia or Paddington Station :).


Oldest I've slept in - probably Warkworth castle - first recorded mention is 1157, but the current keep probably dates from 1345.

been to a few iron age forts - The first was Castle an Dinas, in Cornwall when I was a kid .

Been to a few of the "oldest Pub in Britain" as well.


The oldest building I have slept in was in Cornwall - The Mill House Inn, a converted 700 year old mill turned B&B.

I would guess that the oldest building I've been inside is the Pantheon in Rome. The oldest ruins I've gamboled in was a temple to Apollo in Southern Turkey, the oldest ruins I've seen from a "tourist" distance the Great Pyramids and surrounds.


Off the top of my head, oldest building I slept in was Burg Rabeneck in Franconia, at an SCA event. The castle is probably late 12th century. Close second the Ronneburg near Frankfurt, early 13th century.

Oldest non-castle building I slept in, a townhouse in Trier, late 16th century AFAIK, and smelling like every year of it.

Oldest I've been in: Newgrange. Next-oldest, the Amphittheater in Trier, 1st century CE.


Sorry we tired you out Charlie! Everyone appreciated having the chance to hear you talk about your books.

Oldest building personally slept in? Probably 2nd Court, St. John's College Cambridge, completed in 1602.


Oldest place I've slept in must have been an old hotel in Lund, SWeden. Parts may have dated back to the 18th century.

Oldest one I've been in were probably some parts of monasteries in Austria. They might have gone back to early medieval times.

I don't pay attention to this kind of thing, that is to precise dates, because I've studied History in general and also the History of architecture too much. I've learned that the residents of buildings overhaul and remodel them extensively through the generations, the centuries.

In the end, what's left of the original building? Say I'm visiting Vaux-le-Vicomte castle. Am I looking at walls put up when the interior was redone in the early 19th century or the original walls from the middle of the 16th century?

It's both the story of The ship of Theseus (also known as Theseus's paradox) and the question of the changes in interior decoration and external covering technologies over time.


1372, according to Wikipedia, the castle of Henry II of Castile, Ciudad Rodrigo, Salamanca in Spain. It's a Parador (hotel chain). Many Paradores are in historic buildings such as castles and convents.

Some of the places I lived in Italy also were fairly old but, I suspect, 15th not 14th century.

Oldest in the UK is probably 18th century.


No idea about the oldest building I have slept in, my parents took me to Europe when I was about 9, may have been the hotel in Paris we slept in.

I have gone up into the Great Pyramid with my father on the same trip.


I slept in a home (rough mansion/minor fort) owned by my host family's extended family when I was an exchange student in Germany. They didn't know the exactly when it was built, but could verify that it existed in the early 1400s. We were there for a yearly work-weekend to keep the place up; I wallpapered. The walls were filled with very, very dry straw.

The oldest building I've been in is St. Peter's Church in Bremen, (re) built in the mid-1000s, although heavily modified multiple times in the kiloyear since.


Slept in: almost certainly the original scholars' house buildings at Eton College (1440), where I boarded for three years. My Oxford college was a bit older, at 1379, but I don't think I ever slept in any of the original buildings.

The oldest building I've ever been in is probably Maes Howe, a neolithic cairn in Orkney (which I see has been mentioned before...). I've walked around Skara Brae, which is older, but they don't let visitors actually go into the buildings, so I don't think that really counts.

If you're into archaeology, I can't recommend a trip to Orkney too highly. Sites that would be a huge deal almost anywhere else are left undeveloped in farmyards, so high is the density of amazing stuff.


Oldest building I've slept in: Portledge Manor in Devonshire, the oldest bits of which are 13th century. The oldest building I've ever been in (so far as my memory serves me): Edinburgh Castle, the oldest bits of which are apparently 12th century.


I went to school at Salisbury Cathedral School, and boarded. According to Wikipedia, parts of that building date from the 13th Century, so that would have to be the oldest building I've slept in.

As for oldest building I've been in, I'm not totally sure but like others have said, it's probably something in Turkey.


For us New Worlders, the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza are fairly old, dating back to about 750 AD. Not much by old world standards, though, and I didn't sleep there.


They don't let you in to the buildings of Skara Brae but equally, they don't actually guard them after about half four in the evening and they do expect you to retrieve your own toddlers if they fall in.


Hotel Esmeralda in Paris is built in a 17th century store-front, for sleeping under. The Basilica of San Francesco d'Assisi, 13th century for walking under. This was pre-1997 earthquake.


Apropos this discussion, the most recent old building I slept in was earlier this year in a hotel within l'Aubette in the centre of old Strasbourg, said hotel having been built slightly before the US Declaration of Revolt. A fine comfortable modern interior, but with stained glass windows in the turreted stairwells should one ignore the lifts.

I suspect a lot of its interior was retro even in the 18th Century.

A fine place to stay, in a fine city.


Oldest slept in, 17th Century barn in Germany.

Oldest been in, sometime before 2200BC, the megalithic temples on Gozo.


The oldest building I have ever been inside is probably something in Israel, when I went there on a trip in 1996 or so, but I can't say with certainty which of those is the oldest, or if they have been continuously used.

Having lived in Kyoto for a few years I have been in some pretty old buildings there, including the oldest wooden building in the world, Horyuji temple, built in 607. As was mentioned once or twice, many (most?) ancient Japanese temples have burned down and been rebuilt over the years, but Horyuji's pagoda has, thankfully, not.

I'm not sure if I have even lived in any building older than the house I grew up in, in suburban New Jersey, which is around 90-100 years old now. But I have at least slept in a rather old home in Japan, a 17th century merchant's house in Nara owned by the family of a friend that I have unfortunately lost touch with. Unfortunately, old houses in Japan are very rare, at least when compared with the plethora of very old temples. If they had built in stone rather than wood then I would likely have lived in a place as old as Charlie and many of the other Europeans in this thread, but then again, if Japanese architecture had been stone based it would have developed a completely different aesthetic.


When I was with school on a trip to Cambridge (UK) we stayed at Buckden Towers and slept in the tower built in 1475. While in Japan for a few weeks I stayed in Ryokans way older than that, but I can't seem to find them since I can't even spell their names. Some had been open for over a 1000 years.

Oldest place to visit I'm not sure, but in Sweden it's probably "Gene fornby", a site from the iron age near the town of Örnsköldsvik. The Catacombs of Rome in Italy was probably just as old. Very cool place to visit.


Being a USA-ian, we don't have places nearly as old as some of you in Europe. Still, my wife and I were able to spend the night once in the guest quarters of the Presidio La Bahia, an old Spanish fort in Goliad, Texas, built in 1749. Very cool.

As a teenager in southwestern Colorado, I also camped one night in/near some Anasazi indian ruins on private land that dated back to approx the 12th cent. But dunno if camping counts or not ;)


Paras 2 and 3 - The other reason why traditional Japanese residential architecture was so often paper on wooden frames was that when (not if) if fell over in an earthquake it:-
1) Didn't hurt people it fell on.
2) Was cheap, quick and easy to re-erect.


I've rather enjoyed reading people's accounts, lots of good ideas for trips!

My list:

1. Oldest Slept Building

I've stayed in a bunch of hotels or apartments from the 17th century across Western Europe, Italy especially. Common enough that it isn't worth listing. I think I may have stayed in an older hotel in Granada, maybe 15th century, but I can't verify that.

2. Oldest building

I've spent a bit of time in Spain and Italy over the years, but I think the oldest maybe the Duomo/Cathedral in Syracuse, on the island. If I recall correctly, the original building has been repeatedly rebuilt, starting with the Temple of Athena from the 5th century BC. That might be a marginal call, in which case, the Cavern of Sighs in the same. A man made remnant of the Syracuse quarries. Incredibly spooky, to see the curvature, to see the work of thousands of years of slaves.


I see a lot of us New World types have been penalised! So here is one for us:

The farm I grew up on is situated on the eastern coast of the South Island of New Zealand, inland, on the foothills of a mountain range. The foothills had light forest cover till that was removed by fire/clearance by the Maori and British settlers, much of which wasn't completed till just before WW1.

For several reasons, the wrong crops, slowly increasing populations, the specific area I grew up in was not permanently or seasonally settled by Maori, as there was no obvious need. Instead, we imagine they ranged over the area irregularly. It is likely some camped during hunting or foraging, but unlikely that they stayed. Preferring the river estuaries and fish laden coast nearby

So the place where my family settled was, so best as can be told, not permanently settled by any prior human populations. It is possible we were the first human inhabitants of the area to stay, be born and die on that land.


The oldest place I've slept in would be a house we rented for about nine years in Devon. One end was first built in 1610 but, to be fair the end we slept in was a lot newer. Probably about 1950! But I must have dozed off in the lounge (the original part) at some time.

Oldest place I've been in? I would guess either West Kennet Long Barrow or Wayland Smiths Cave but not sure which is eldest. Can't be much in it, just a few centuries either way!


Slept in - probably a Cornish inn in Polperro built ca. 1400.

Been inside Stonehenge - back in the 1970s when you could do that. Also a church on a hill near Verona with pre-Christian origins. Also the arena there.

Here in NY we have several 17th century houses on the East End of Long Island. Oldest is said to be from 1649.


When I lived in the UK as a child, our house was built in the 1850s. We went to church in a building that was allegedly built in the 1200s.



About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on November 7, 2013 9:23 AM.

I have a new book cover was the previous entry in this blog.

Catching a Blighty is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Search this blog