Scotland's only producer of roofing shingles, made by hand in the Highlands.

I am a qualified Austrian shingle maker and installer (holzschindelmacher) and am qualified as such under the Austrian ausbildung system. In Austria the installation of shingles is a protected trade, so formal training is mandatory. There is a strong tradition across Austria for shingle making and installation, which I am proud to bring to Scotland as the only producer of Larch shingles in the UK.

Shingles or Shakes are a type of roof tile made exclusively from split wood, which can be used for either roofing or exterior walls. The Austrian tradition is to use Larch wood for shingles, British traditions tend to favour Chestnut, and in North America, Cedar. In reality, any wood can be used, so long as the grain is reasonably straight and follows a few rules of thumb, but some woods will always rot faster than others, hence the traditions to use long lasting varieties.

RG Bushell - Highland Shingles - Roofing and Wall Cladding Shingles Made in Scotland in Larch, Pine and Aspen by hand
RG Bushell - Highland Shingles - Roofing and Wall Cladding Shingles Made in Scotland in Larch, Pine and Aspen by hand

The process of making shingles involves carefully splitting sections of tree trunk into successively smaller sizes, carefully reading the grain of the wood as you work to determine the best way to use the wood. By splitting instead of sawing the wood, less wood and energy is wasted by being turned to sawdust and the act of splitting preserves much of the fibrous structure of the wood, making it more naturally resistant to water and rot than a sawn plank.

Most shingle roofing advertised in the UK is made with imported North American cedar and very often these shingles are sawn not split, which much reduces the natural hardiness of the wood, as the fibres are broken, leading to a roof which will look good but won't be likely to stand the test of time so well. There is no substitute for hand made shingles, each one worked by hand and graded by eye.

A hand made shingle roof can last surprisingly long - the rule of thumb for larch is that for every degree of pitch, the roof will last an equal number of years, so a 35 degree roof, will last around 35 years. Sunlight also has an effect on long term wear, so the south side will wear marginally faster than a north side. Shingles are very resistant to heavy hail and strong winds - having a degree of natural flexibilty where conventional roof tiles may otherwise shatter.

And of course, a true hand made shingle roof is perhaps the most ecologically sustainable solution for roofing, as there are only two components: locally sourced wood and metal nails. They leave behind only iron oxide and compost! Unlike 'green' living roofs, which often feature EPDM plastic linings beneath the surface, a shingle roof can claim honest ecological pedigree when made with honestly sourced timber. It is also very possible to follow natural, flowing shapes and roof curves with shingles in a way which is not possible with many other roofing materials.

RG Bushell - Highland Shingles - Roofing and Wall Cladding Shingles Made in Scotland in Larch, Pine and Aspen by hand
RG Bushell - Highland Shingles - British and Scottish Made Vernacular Roofing SHingles Made  by Hand in Scotland

I am the only producer of split larch roofing shingles in the UK and the only practicer of the alpine traditions. I produce shingles which are approximately two feet in length, which is often double the length of conventional imported (and often sawn) North American Cedar and other cleft/split traditional shingles produced in the UK.

I am currently developing a shingle making workshop in the Highlands of Scotland and am producing stock during the winter of 2023. I am currently only offering my shingles on a supply and install basis.