St Kilda, Hirta, Village Bay, Cleit 85

Cleit

Site Name St Kilda, Hirta, Village Bay, Cleit 85

Classification Cleit

Alternative Name(s) Lady Grange's House

Canmore ID 9676

Site Number NF19NW 21.17

NGR NF 10057 99303

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Ordnance Survey licence number 100020548. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Western Isles
  • Parish Harris
  • Former Region Western Isles Islands Area
  • Former District Western Isles
  • Former County Inverness-shire

Archaeology Notes

NF19NW 21.17 10057 99303

(NF 10059930) Lady Grange House (NAT)

OS 6"map annotated by J Mathieson (1928)

Lady Grange was imprisoned in this building in 1734 for a period of 8 years, after being abducted at the instigation of her husband and, it is thought, of Simon Lord Lovat (D Laing 1876).

Mathieson (J Mathieson 1928) states that the original house was timber-roofed, and when it fell in it was rebuilt as a 'cleit', but Williamson (K Williamson and J M Boyd 1960) considers it to be the only surviving portion of a 'black-house'. The doorway is said to be original, but the wooden lock (of a design peculiar to the island) is at Dunvegan Castle, Skye.

D Laing 1876; J Mathieson 1928; K Williamson and J M Boyd 1960.

This structure remains as illustrated, and has all the characteristics of being a cleit. It is not shown on H Sharbau's plan of the Village in 1860 (information from H Sharbaeu [Plan of St Kilda village, 1860] National Museum of Anituqities of Scotland [NMAS} Mss), and it may may on the site of Lady Grange's House, but this is not certain either.

Visited by OS (JLD) 8 August 1967.

The largest surviving cleit S of the street, Cleit 85 is popularly known as Lady Grange's House. Though it may occupy the site of the house in which she resided, it is unlikely to incorporate more than a mere vestige of that structure which in 1876 was reported as having been demolished 'a few years ago'.

The drystone walls are battered externally and are neatly corbelled inside. The building measures internally 4.67m in length by 2.01m in maximum width near the W end, where it achieves a height of about 2.44m; it is narrower and lower towards the doorway at the E end.

The doorway has an inward-sloping inner lintel supported on the S side by a single upright slab and two superincumbent courses. The existing wooden door was constructed and put in position in the late 1970s. Outside the doorway on the N side there are several paving stones and a step up to the higher ground. To the S the ground falls away steeply below the base of the outer wall and there is some revetting of the slope.

G P Stell and M Harman 1988.

A survey was carried out by the National Trust for Scotland on over 300 cleitean (singular cleit) on St Kilda. They are double-walled, drystone-built oval or rectangular structures, used primarily for storage of food and fuel resources. Many have survived well after being abandoned in 1930 when the islands were evacuated. The survey recorded their condition, construction and location.

M Taylor 2001

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