Tigh na Cailleachan Dubha (The House of the Old Black Women)

Lewis, Scotland.  Days 8 to 9, 6th to 7th July.

Baille na Cille

Baille na Cille

This is the view from my bedroom window where I was staying at Baille na Cille, at a remote location on the north-west coast of Lewis.

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Baille na Cille

A somewhat wider perspective from outside.

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Baille na Cille

Baille na Cille

This is the ancient burial ground at Baille na Cille.   The oldest tombstones are simply uninscribed slabs of rock.  The people of the time were likely to be illiterate in any case.

According to local legend this place was originally bare rock until a man called Eidhean brought soil from a nearby hill Cnoc Eidhean and built a retaining wall to hold it in place.  There is said to be a pagan temple or dun under the mound.  There is the remains there of a very old chapel built after the mound was created.  At one time the burial place may have been for the exclusive use of males from the Macauley clan.

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Baille na Cille

Baille na Cille

The Lewis Chessmen were discovered under the sands at a beach near here.

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North-west coast of Lewis

A wild coastal view on a remote road in north-western Lewis.

Mealastadh

Highland cattle, Mealastadh

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Mealastadh

Highland cattle, Mealastadh

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Mealastadh

People have lived in this remote area for thousands of years and the Vikings also came, first to raid and then to settle.  There are several ruined villages nearby vacated by the clearances, and the last was abandoned in 1838.

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Tigh na Cailleachan Dubha

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Tigh na Cailleachan Dubha

This is the place called Tigh na Cailleachan Dubha, ‘The House of the Old Black Women‘.  There is a strong local tradition that this was an ancient nunnery and it was mentioned as such in the early nineteenth century.  However there has probably never been a dig here and there appears to be no direct evidence to support the identification.

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Tigh na Cailleachan Dubha

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Tigh na Cailleachan Dubha

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Mealastadh

Mealastadh

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Mealastadh

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Mealastadh

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Mealastadh

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2 comments on “Tigh na Cailleachan Dubha (The House of the Old Black Women)

  1. […] the islanders were presumably illiterate before the nineteenth century.  We saw the same thing at Baille Na Cille in Lewis, earlier in this […]

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