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Recording Your Heritage Online

Event ID 567145

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Recording Your Heritage Online


Arnol No 42 - Arnol Blackhouse, c.1885 Traditional Lewis dwelling with drystone walled stackyard, preserved as a model of the hundreds whose roofless cells now honeycomb the stony landscape. Last occupied in 1964, it was one of the last of its type to be built and, unlike many, was not modernised, so that it retains the traditional appearance of a longhouse with no windows or chimneys. The sloping timber roof structure, straw thatch roped down and anchored with stones like a trussed-up package, rests on the inner edge of a grassy parapet. This wallhead is capped with blue clay, through which rain percolates to an insulating earthern core, keeping it damp and thus windproof between the two drystone skins that make up the great thickness of the walls. The main range, with one entrance shared by humans and livestock, comprises an ill-lit two-roomed dwelling, partitioned to wall height, and a byre at the lower end with an open central drain running out to a midden. The byre's roof pitch is altered to control smoke penetration and the flow of air/heat to and from the 'uphill' living area. An interconnecting parallel barn range adjoins to the rear, its flailthrashing floor with the through doors alignedto create a draft to aid winnowing. Although primitive, these houses were finely tuned to their environment. Their carefully balanced ecosystem began to fail only as a result of 'improving' alterations, often compulsorily imposed by landlords. Historic Scotland property open to public; guide book available.

Taken from "Western Seaboard: An Illustrated Architectural Guide", by Mary Miers, 2008. Published by the Rutland Press

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