1) Examples in the OED date from 1447 and it is said to be a horizontal beam which runs along the length of a roof and rests on the principal rafters.

Salzman found the word a century earlier in a building contract written in French and suggested that it referred there to the roof timbers generally: 1341 le scentelon de leesse et del espessour del meryn demort devers Hen. le Stedman et est merche de purlens de la sale Mons. Thomas Vghtred, York.

places York
dates 1341

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