Ancient Heating Systems

Central Heating systems have become common place in our homes.

However have you ever thought about what our ancestors used to heat their homes?

This article will look at some of the ancient forms of heating used by our ancestors.


A hypocaust was an ancient roman heating system that used hot air to heat houses, hot baths (thermae).

This particular system could be classed as an ancient form of underfloor heating, as the floor of the properties where raised above ground level by pillars called pillae stacks that where layered with tiles then concrete and then another layer of tiles.

Spaces were left inside the walls so that the hot air and smoke from the furnace would pass through the enclosed areas and out of the flues in the roof, which resulted in rooms being heated but no polluted.

Ceramic Box tiles were placed inside the walls to remove the hot burned air, whilst heating the walls.

This form of heating system was very labour-intensive as it required constant attention and was considered to be expensive to run.


This form of heating system can be dated as far back as the 10th century from the Balhae Kingdom; this is also considered to be an ancient under floor heating system.

The Ondol heating system was common place in Korea and used direct heat transfer from wood smoke to the underside of a thick masonry floor.

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During the Medieval period were heated by fires that were built in hearths or in braziers that were hung from walls.

The fires were generally built in the middle of the room and the smoke rose to a hole on the roof or was vented through large open vents that where situated under the gables. This however meant that only larger rooms could be heated.

It was not until the 11th/12th century that chimneys were invented however when they were invented it changed the way that this form of heating was used.

Smaller rooms could be heated using fires that where built into the walls as the discovery of chimneys allowed this to be done.

This form of heating can still be found today in some older properties however due to pollution in certain areas you can only use smokeless fuel.

Off course this form of heating is not without its disadvantages especially on cold mornings if you do not have any other form of heating it is going to be very cold in your house until you get the fire going another disadvantage is that you cannot control the heat.

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