North East Lewis

Lewis, Scotland.  Day 8, 6th July.

Clach an Trushal monolith

Clach an Trushal monolith

I drove off along the north-east coast of Lewis with rain threatening and before too long the threat became a reality.

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Clach an Trushal monolith

Clach an Trushal monolith

Clach an Trushal is the tallest standing stone in Scotland at around 6 metres high.  It was originally the largest stone in a stone circle.  It is also thought to have had some function in guiding navigators at sea.

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Remote abandoned farmhouse

Remote abandoned farmhouse

I took some obscure side roads near the monilith that petered out and discovered this abandoned farm house.

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Remote abandoned farmhouse

Remote abandoned farmhouse

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Butt of Lewis

Butt of Lewis

This is the wild northern tip of Lewis, the Butt of Lewis.

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Butt of Lewis

Butt of Lewis

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Butt of Lewis

Butt of Lewis

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Steinacleit

Steinacleit

On the way back from the Butt of Lewis I stopped at Steinacleit.  This is an image of an aerial photograph on the outside display board, obscured somewhat by raindrops.  You can see a smaller central area and there is also a larger circular zone above and to the right of it.

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Steinacleit

Steinacleit

It might be thought that this is the remains of a burial cairn or a stone circle.  However, it is thought to be much rarer than that, the remains of a prehistoric settlement (with a central ring 16 metres in diameter) and an associated stock enclosure.  In 1930 some pottery, flint and bone was discovered at the centre though these have since been lost.

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Steinacleit

Steinacleit

Behind the stones of the ancient settlement you can see a small loch in front of some houses.  In the middle of the loch is the remains of a broch (or circular prehistoric fort), about 2,000 years old.

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Arnol Blackhouse Museum

Arnol Blackhouse Museum

As well as the Gearannan Blackhouse Village, there is the Arnol Blackhouse Museum, further on up the coast.  This is the inside of a room by available light, showing the box for a bed, simple furniture and a wall blackened by smoke.  There were no chimneys, the smoke made its way out as best it could through the thatch.

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Arnol Blackhouse Museum

Arnol Blackhouse Museum

The houses themselves are quite large because they would have housed animals as well as humans during the winter.  The large mounds you can see in the foreground would be covered piles of peat.

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Arnol Blackhouse Museum

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Arnol Blackhouse Museum

Arnol Blackhouse Museum

Not all of the old houses there have roofs.

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A modern farmhouse settlement in the bleak landscape.

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A couple of sheep nearby.

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Shawbost Norse Mills

Shawbost Mill and Kiln

This is the Shawbost Mill and Kiln, used up until the 1930s.  It is known as a Norse Mill but this is a misnomer, more accurately a Celtic or British Mill.

Norse, Celtic or British?

Actually, the Celtic designation is a misnomer as well.  The Celts were a people from Central Europe with widespread influence in prehistoric times.  They had very significant influence in the British Isles and Gaelic is the language of the Celts.

Nonetheless, they did not settle in Britain in significant numbers and the prehistoric people and their descendants are more accurately described as Britons. After the Act of Union  in 1707 when Scotland and England united to become Great Britain, Britons was not deemed an appropriate term for the Gaelic-speaking original settlers because it was too close to British, which included the English.  So Celtic came to be the term generally used though the logic for it was somewhat wanting.

However, who the Britons were before Roman times, whether they were several different ethnic groups, where they came from and how they changed over time is largely a matter of conjecture.

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Gearrannan Blackhouse Village

Lewis, Scotland.  Day 8, 6th July.

Gearrannan Blackhouse Village

Gearrannan Blackhouse Village

Gearrannan Blackhouse Village is on the coast not far north of Calanais.  It comprises nine traditional dry stone dwellings.  These were abandoned by their traditional owners in 1974 and subsequently reconditioned.

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Gearrannan Blackhouse Village

Gearrannan Blackhouse Village

The cottages have the traditional thatch roofs weighed down with stones.

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Gearrannan Blackhouse Village

Gearrannan Blackhouse Village

You can elect to stay in one of them, four are available renovated to a modern standard with electricity and appliances.

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Gearrannan Blackhouse Village

Gearrannan Blackhouse Village

There being virtually no trees on the island, the traditional form of heating was from burning peat.

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Gearrannan Blackhouse Village

Gearrannan Blackhouse Village

An elaborate mechanical loom, likely dating from the nineteenth century.

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Gearrannan Blackhouse Village

Gearrannan Blackhouse Village

Loom on the right, carding machine on the left.  Carding is a process of disentangling, straightening and incorporating the raw fibres to make them suitable for further processing.

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Gearrannan Blackhouse Village

Gearrannan Blackhouse Village

Although there have been people in the area for thousands of years, the village dates from the 1600s.  Moreover the houses here today date only from the end of the nineteenth century, though their form is ancient.

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Gearrannan Blackhouse Village

Gearrannan Blackhouse Village

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Gearrannan Blackhouse Village

Gearrannan Blackhouse Village

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