Nationwide Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage

Thatcher’s Craft

The covering of roofs with reeds is one of the oldest craftsmanship techniques to do with house construction, and had been verifiably practised as early as ca. 4,000 B.C. Originally it had been roofs in rural areas which the builder of the house had constructed using his own means from the tried and tested, regionally available materials reed or straw.

Facts & figures

Crucial date: all seasons
Inscription: 2014
Domains: traditional craftsmanship
Where to find: especially in Nothern Germany close to the coasts (Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Schleswig-Holstein, Lower Saxony)


Reetdachdecker-Innung Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
Marlies Händschke (Managing Director)

It is the common reed or bulrush that today serves as a basic material for thatched roofs. Thatched roofs are widespread in many regions of Europe, Asia and Africa. In Germany they are predominantly to be found in those areas of Northern Germany close to the coastline (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony), but there are also a few scattered examples in the Spreewald (Spree Forest) or the South of Germany. The thatching of roofs requires a high degree of expertise. The handicraft thrives upon a plethora of traditions which have been handed down orally and upon handicraft customs which have been passed on from generation to generation.

Moreover, in 1998 the skilled profession of the thatcher, specialised in the thatching of roods using reeds was called in to being in order to do justice to the increased expertise required. The interest in roofs thatched with reeds has been strongly on the increase again in recent years. Owners of thatched houses appreciate the pleasant living climate, the harmonious aura of the building and support for ecological reasons the use of construction materials that grow back again.


Bundesweites Verzeichnis Immaterielles Kulturerbe - Jubiläumsausgabe.
Deutsche UNESCO-Kommission, 2023