A typical summer beam with slender joists in the ceiling of a cafe in the Netherlands. Image: Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands

A bressummer, breastsummer, summer beam (somier, sommier, sommer, somer, cross-somer, summer, summier,[1] summer-tree,[2] or dorman, dormant tree) are load bearing beams in a timber framed building. The word summer derived from sumpter or French sommier, “a pack horse“, meaning “bearing great burden or weight“. “To support a superincumbent wall”, “any beast of burden”, and in this way is similar to a wall plate.

The use and definition of these terms vary but generally a bressummer is a jetty sill and a summer is an interior beam supporting ceiling joists, see below:


  1. A Dictionary of the Old English Language
  2. 1913 Webster
  3.  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chambers, Ephraim, ed. (1728). "article name needed". Cyclopædia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (first ed.). James and John Knapton, et al.
  4. Alcock, N. W.. Recording timber-framed buildings: an illustrated glossary. London: Council for British Archaeology, 1989. G4, 14h, 15b. ISBN 1872414729
  5. Harris, Richard. Discovering timber-framed buildings. 2d ed. Aylesbury: Shire Publications, 1979. 94. ISBN 0747802157.
  6. "Breastsummer" def. 1. Oxford English Dictionary Second Edition on CD-ROM (v. 4.0) © Oxford University Press 2009
  7. Bailey; Kennett, 1695
  8. Folk-etymology: A Dictionary of Verbal Corruptions Or Words... quoting Parker's Glossary of Architecture
  9. Sobon, Jack. Build a classic timber-framed house: planning and design, traditional materials, affordable methods. Pownal, Vt.: Storey Communications, 1994. 191.ISBN 0882668412
  10. Ensminger, Robert F.. The Pennsylvania barn: its origin, evolution, and distribution in North America. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992. 392.
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