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Farmstead (Period Unassigned), Rig And Furrow (Medieval)

Site Name Threipmuir

Classification Farmstead (Period Unassigned), Rig And Furrow (Medieval)

Alternative Name(s) Threipmuir Farm

Canmore ID 306371

Site Number NT16SE 26

NGR NT 1797 6429

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2020.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Edinburgh, City Of
  • Parish Currie
  • Former Region Lothian
  • Former District City Of Edinburgh
  • Former County Midlothian

Archaeology Notes

Threipmuir farmstead is situated in improved pasture on the lower slopes of the Pentland Hills, approximately 100m W of the dam separating Harlaw and Threipmuir Reservoirs. The ground slopes gently W and S towards the reservoir giving good natural drainage, but the water table is high and the area SW of the farmstead is particularly wet and marshy. The farmstead is a simple U-shaped Improved 18th century steading, comprising a long, single storey range on the S side with two free-standing outbuildings to the W and E. It is enclosed on its S side by a garden wall which overlies the remains of a larger (earlier) tree-lined enclosure. The larger enclosure overlies a small remnant of rig and furrow, extending S to the reservoir. On its N side, the farmstead is enclosed by a modern fence and there is a small clamp kiln for lime making about 100m to the NW.

The S range is aligned E-W and has been built on a slope so that the E end is at least a metre higher than the W end. It has been extended and altered several times, but presently comprises eight distinct units, including a dwelling house (latterly, two cottages), byre, stable and cart shed, and is currently used for storage. Corrugated iron panels form a flat roof over the central portion of the range, with the remnants of a double pitched pantile roof at each end patched with corrugated iron. The E end is roofless and derelict and the rest of the structure is in poor repair particularly at the W end where the pitched roof has separated from both gable ends and is supported only by its central ridge beam. The W outbuilding was built as a threshing barn with opposed entrances (one of which is blocked), but subsequently modernised by the addition of a horse engine platform on its W side. Both gables and the W wall stand to wall head height, but the E wall is reduced to knee height. The E outbuilding is reduced to low footings and its function is not known.

A creation date of 1773/4 for the farmstead is known because a tenancy agreement of that date records that Sir Charles Scott agreed to build a suitable house for the Sheills family as part of a new farming venture. The earliest structure visible today is the western end of the S range, which was probably the original farmhouse and byre. The W outbuilding also dates to the late 18th century and although the E outbuilding cannot be dated it is likely to be broadly contemporary with the others. The original farmsteading probably formed an L-shape with the longer arm being the house and the short stub the barn.

Some original stonework survives in the gable end corners and rear wall of the house. These gable ends indicate that the wallhead of the original structure was wide enough to form a base suitable for a turf roof. The roof height was later raised, presumably to accommodate re-roofing in pantiles although this heavier roof pushed out the walls of the house and external buttresses now provide wall support. Buttresses outside the W outhouse or barn suggest this building had a similar problem and may also have had a pantile roof. More recently the majority of the tiles have been replaced by the flat roof seen today.

Threipmuir prospered throughout the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The south range was extended eastwards on 3 separate occasions and the frontage remodelled in a new style probably in the mid 19th century. The final extension, built over the ruined foundations of the E outbuilding, was complete by 1852 and is visible in a postcard photograph stamped 1914.

The Sheills family farmed Threipmuir until at least 1841. The house was in a poor state of repair in 1851 but it remained a working farm until at least 1861. At this date it had 3 rooms with windows but by 1871 it was only a 2 roomed shepherd’s cottage. In 1893 it was unroofed and derelict but by 1901 was reoccupied again by a shepherd. Plans are currently in progress for a restoration project for use as a community workshop.

The buildings and their chronology are described in detail in the documents, Threipmuir Detailed Site Description and Threipmuir History, and these should be read in conjunction with the measured survey of the farmstead.

Information from SRP Pentland Hills, March 2010.


Field Visit (May 2008 - June 2008)

Plane table survey undertaken during two Scotland's Rural Past training days, May-June 2008. Further analysis of building chronology undertaken 2008-9.

Reference (May 2008 - November 2009)

Review of historic maps, printed material and archive sources, including estate papers and census records.


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