A blackhouse : teach dubh [t̪ˠaːç d̪ˠʊw] ; Scottish Gaelic : t(a)igh-dubh [t̪ʰəˈt̪u] ) is a traditional type of house which used to be common in Ireland, the Hebrides, and the Scottish Highlands.(Irish
The origin of the name blackhouse is of some debate. It could be less than 150 years old and may have been synonymous with inferior. On the Isle of Lewis, in particular, it seems to have been used to distinguish the older blackhouses from some of the newer white-houses (Irish : teach bán [t̪ˠaːç bˠaːn] , Irish : teach geal [t̪ˠaːç ɟəulʲ] ; Scottish Gaelic : taigh-geal [t̪ʰəˈkʲal̪ˠ] ), with their harled (rendered) stone walls. There may also be some confusion arising from the phonetic similarity between the dubh, meaning black, and tughadh, meaning thatch.
The buildings were generally built with double wall dry-stone walls packed with earth, and were roofed with wooden rafters covered with a thatch of turf with cereal straw or reed. The floor was generally flagstones or packed earth and there was a central hearth for the fire. There was no chimney for the smoke to escape through. Instead the smoke made its way through the roof. This led to the soot blackening of the interior which may also have contributed to the adoption of name blackhouse.
The blackhouse was used to accommodate livestock as well as people. People lived at one end and the animals lived at the other with a partition between them.
Although the Lewis blackhouses have a look of real antiquity, most of the upstanding ruins were built less than 150 years ago. Many were still roofed until the 1970sbut without the necessary annual repairs deteriorated rapidly; as people moved into more modern dwellings with indoor plumbing and better heating, most have fallen into ruin. However, blackhouses are increasingly being restored, especially for use as holiday accommodation.
The blackhouses on Lewis have roofs thatched with cereal straw over turf and thick, stone-lined walls with an earthen core. Roof timbers rise from the inner face of the walls providing a characteristic ledge at the wall head (tobhta). This gives access to the roof for thatching. Both the animals and occupants shared the same door, living at different ends of the same space. Several long ranges, or rooms, were usually built alongside each other, each one having its own ridgeline giving them the very distinctive look of the Lewis blackhouse.
The immediate origins of the blackhouse are unclear as few pre-eighteenth century examples have ever been excavated. One reason for this is that, unlike their later counterparts, the early examples may have been made of turf and thatch and quickly returned to the earth once abandoned. As one of the most primitive forms of the North Atlantic longhouse tradition it is very probable that the roots of the blackhouse, in which cattle and humans shared the same roof, is well over 1000 years old. The Lewis examples have clearly been modified to survive in the tough environment of the Outer Hebrides. Low rounded roofs, elaborately roped, were developed to resist the strong Atlantic winds and thick walls to provide insulation and to support the sideways forces of the short driftwood roof timbers.
The Hebrides comprise a widespread and diverse archipelago off the west coast of mainland Scotland. There are two main groups: the Inner and Outer Hebrides.
The Outer Hebrides or Western Isles, sometimes known as Innse Gall or the Long Isle/Long Island, is an island chain off the west coast of mainland Scotland. The islands are geographically coextensive with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, one of the 32 unitary council areas of Scotland. They form part of the archipelago of the Hebrides, separated from the Scottish mainland and from the Inner Hebrides by the waters of the Minch, the Little Minch, and the Sea of the Hebrides. Scottish Gaelic is the predominant spoken language, although in a few areas English speakers form a majority.
Thatching is the craft of building a roof with dry vegetation such as straw, water reed, sedge, rushes, heather, or palm branches, layering the vegetation so as to shed water away from the inner roof. Since the bulk of the vegetation stays dry and is densely packed—trapping air—thatching also functions as insulation. It is a very old roofing method and has been used in both tropical and temperate climates. Thatch is still employed by builders in developing countries, usually with low-cost local vegetation. By contrast, in some developed countries it is the choice of some affluent people who desire a rustic look for their home, would like a more ecologically friendly roof, or who have purchased an originally thatched abode.
The Isle of Lewis (Scottish Gaelic: Eilean Leòdhais or simply Lewis is the northern part of Lewis and Harris, the largest island of the Western Isles or Outer Hebrides archipelago in Scotland. The two parts are frequently referred to as if they were separate islands. The total area of Lewis is 683 square miles.
Harris is the southern and more mountainous part of Lewis and Harris, the largest island in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. Although not an island itself, Harris is often referred to as the Isle of Harris, which is the former postal county and the current post town for Royal Mail postcodes starting HS3 or HS5; see HS postcode area.
Ross and Cromarty, sometimes referred to as Ross-shire and Cromartyshire is a variously defined area in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. There is a registration county and a lieutenancy area in current use, the latter of which is 8,019 square kilometres in extent. Historically there has also been a constituency of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, a local government county, a district of the Highland local government region and a management area of the Highland Council. The local government county is now divided between two local government areas: the Highland area and Na h-Eileanan Siar. Ross and Cromarty border Sutherland to the north and Inverness-shire to the south.
Argyll, sometimes called Argyllshire, is a historic county and registration county of western Scotland.
The Slate Islands are an island group in the Inner Hebrides, lying immediately off the west coast of Scotland, north of Jura and southwest of Oban. The main islands are Seil, Easdale, Luing, Lunga, Shuna, Torsa and Belnahua. Scarba and Kerrera, which lie nearby, are not usually included.
Vernacular architecture is architecture characterised by the use of local materials and knowledge, usually without the supervision of professional architects. Vernacular architecture represents the majority of buildings and settlements created in pre-industrial societies and includes a very wide range of buildings, building traditions, and methods of construction. Vernacular buildings are typically simple and practical, whether residential houses or built for other purposes.
Garenin is a crofting township found on the west coast of the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. Garenin is in the Carloway municipality and has a population of about 80 people. Garenin is also within the parish of Uig. Today the village is most famous for the "blackhouse village", which consists of nine restored traditional thatched cottages. The village is found at the end of the Garenin road beside the village bay. These houses were lived in till 1974 and were the last group of blackhouses to be inhabited in the Western Isles.
Ross-shire is a historic county in the Scottish Highlands. The county borders Sutherland to the north and Inverness-shire to the south, as well as having a complex border with Cromartyshire – a county consisting of numerous enclaves or exclaves scattered throughout Ross-shire's territory. Ross-shire includes most of Ross along with Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. Dingwall is the traditional county town. The area of Ross-shire is based on that of the historic province of Ross, but with the exclusion of the many enclaves that form Cromartyshire.
Scottish Vernacular architecture is a form of vernacular architecture that uses local materials.
Arnol is a small village typical of many settlements of the west coast of the Isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. Arnol is within the parish of Barvas, and is situated on the A858.
Headland Archaeology comprises a holding company Headland Group Ltd and the trading subsidiary Headland Archaeology (UK) Ltd. These companies provide archaeological services and heritage advice to the construction industry.
Lewis and Harris is a Scottish island in the Outer Hebrides. It is the largest island in Scotland and the third largest in the British Isles, after Great Britain and the island of Ireland.
Dùn Anlaimh, also known as Dùn Amhlaidh, and Eilean nan Cinneachan, is a crannog, located within Loch nan Cinneachan on the Inner Hebridean island of Coll. Upon the crannog there are the remains of walls and several buildings. These remains are not unlike those of other fortified islands found throughout the Outer Hebrides, and it is likely that Dùn Anlaimh dates from the late Middle Ages. According to local tradition on Coll, the fort was once the home of a Norse chieftain who was defeated in battle somewhere nearby. The early 20th century antiquary Erskine Beveridge considered it as one of the four most interesting fortifications, on Coll. The site of Dùn Anlaimh is located at grid reference. The RCAHMS classifies the site as a 'crannog' and an 'island dwelling'.
The Shire of Inverness is a historic county and lieutenancy area of Scotland. Covering much of the Highlands and Outer Hebrides, it is Scotland's largest county, though one of the smallest in population, with 67,733 people or 1.34% of the Scottish population.
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