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Types of Root Cellars

Updated: Mar 3, 2020

Hill Side Cellar

Hill side cellars are constructed into the side of a hill and are usually constructed in areas that have a lot of rock and cliff. These cellars dominate Elliston’s landscape. A hold is dug out into the side of a hill and the outer walls are constructed of rock (hence the term rock cellars). In early days, the roofs were constructed with wood, but by the late 1920’s cement replaced wood in many cellars.

Cliff Side Cellar

Closely related to the hill side cellar is the cliff side cellar. These cellars were built in areas where there were one or more high cliffs. The cellar was built right into the cliff and the outer wall or walls were constructed of rock and the sides covered by sods. Several good examples of this cellar can be found in Elliston. This type of cellar was more rodent-proof and low maintenance compared to the others.

Ground-Up Cellar

In the absence of hillsides and cliffs, the ground-up cellar was popular. In areas where you were unable to dig down due to rocks of cliffs, cellars were built from the ground up. Cellars were usually constructed with wood. Sides were also built with a close knit rock formation and mortar or cement used sparingly to seal any holes and make the cellar rodent-proof. The roof and sides were covered with sods. Many cellars of this type exist in Elliston.

Hatch Cellar

Loose soil lends itself to the construction of this type of cellar. This cellar can be constructed by merely digging a hole in the ground. The recommended depth is 6-8 feet allowing enough room to be able to work easily in the space. A small shed is usually built over the hole and the hole is covered and insulated with a hatch cover. Accessibility down to the cellar is usually by ladder. Very few hatch cellars exist in Elliston.

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