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- a wooden tile which has been used for roofing for several thousand years. Used in exactly the same way as clay/concrete tiles, traditionally in Britain they were oak, now mostly Canadian cedar. Soft woods have been used, and continue to be used in parts of the world, where they are usually coated in tar to achieve longevity. Shingles can be sawn or cleft, that is split along the grain. Cleft shingles look better and last longer.