A first-floor hall with external staircase set over an arcade is representative
of a solar, or possibly, a French-style hall as introduced in the time of Edward
the Confessor. The existence of such halls pre-dating Edward's time is made
evident by the story of Saint Dunstan's escape from a similarly described hall.
At a council in Calne, Wiltshire, when the chief councillors of state were assembled on the upper floor of the building, St. Dunstan said: "Since in my old age you exert yourselves to the stirring up of old quarrels, I confess that I refuse to give in, but commit the cause of His Church to Christ the Judge." As he spoke the house was suddenly shaken; the floor of the upper room in which they were assembled collapsed, and the enemies of the Church were crushed by the falling timber. Only the beam, on which Archbishop Dunstan, was sitting held firm.
The palace of King Olaf as described by Snorri Sturluson, although written at a later date, gives a good idea of such a hall. In Olaf's palace, the great heated room, with doors at either end was where the king sat with his chief officers on either side and opposite, all drinking their ale by the light of the flickering fire. The company were arranged longitudinally down the building with the king in the middle.