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Skye, Armishader

Farmstead (Period Unassigned), Sheepfold (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Skye, Armishader

Classification Farmstead (Period Unassigned), Sheepfold (Period Unassigned)

Canmore ID 311715

Site Number NG55SW 20

NGR NG 50200 50225

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Portree
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Skye And Lochalsh
  • Former County Inverness-shire


Field Visit (June 2010 - June 2010)

Field sketch and photographs.

Situated below a steep NW facing slope at the SE end of Loch Leathan, are five buildings, including a shepherd’s house, a sheepfold and three enclosures. They lie in rough grazing at 150m OD and a large sycamore tree growing in front of the NW corner of the shepherd’s house can be seen from the A855 Portree-Staffin road on the W side of Loch Leathan. The site was part of Scorrybreac Sheep Farm which was formed in 1827 and by the mid-nineteenth century was one of the largest sheep farms in Scotland (for further information see the attached file, 'Scorrybreac Sheep Farm'). When the Board of Agriculture for Scotland bought the ground, c1927, the grazing at Armishader was taken over by South Scorrybreac Sheep Stock Club who continued to use the sheepfold until c1951, when a hydro scheme (Storr Lochs Power Station) raised the level of Loch Leathan, cutting off access from the S end of Loch Leathan. The North of Scotland Hydro Electric Board built a new sheepfold to replace it beside the main road at the S end of Loch Fada (NG44NE 30).

Accounts of the Entailed Estates (MacDonald of Sleat), 18 February 1829, record the cost incurred in building a sheep fank (£58.16.00) for the Farm of Scorrybreac (NAS SC29/64). It is though that this may refer to the sheepfold at Armishader.

A detailed description of the site follows below, described from S to N, and this should be read in conjunction with the site sketches and photographs which are linked to this site record.

The sheepfold lies at the S end of the site and appears to incorporate at least one building within it, which may have been an earlier building on the site, or perhaps a wool barn. It has dry stone walls and consists of several linked pens on the W side and a larger, irregularly-shaped enclosure on the E.

A footpath runs approximately NE from the sheepfold, passing in front of the shepherd’s house, then on towards the other buildings and enclosures. It continues in this general direction for a further 1.7km until it reaches a large sheep park at Holm, where it terminates (NG55SW 16).

The shepherd’s house is built of coursed stone and mortar and has square corners inside and out. It is aligned approx N-S and measures 15m x 6m over walls c0.8m thick, standing to their full height of 1.8m at the front (W) and S gable end. The NE corner has collapsed - the back (E) wall falling out and the N gable wall falling in. There is a centrally-placed doorway on the front (W) wall, c0.85m wide, and four windows, two of which (E and NW walls) have spalyed openings and two of which (S & SW walls) do not. An inserted wall divides the building into two rooms, with internal dimensions of 8.4m x 4.1m at the S end and 4.2m x c4.1m at the N end. A chimney breast (2.3m x 0.6m) has been inserted in front of the S gable wall and has collapsed into the room.

A drainage ditch 1m wide has been dug out of the bank at the back (E) of the house and runs around its N and S ends. In front of the house there is a garden plot with a mature sycamore tree growing in its perimeter wall. Behind the house there is a small dry-stone building, possibly a store, measuring 4m x 3.3m, with rounded corners on it S wall, and square corners on its N wall. The doorway, 0.8m wide, is centrally placed in the W wall. The stonework of the N wall is very loosely built, suggesting that this may have been adapted from an earlier building. Behind are the footings of another structure, measuring c3.6m x 2.3m, which has no identifiable entrance. The S wall appears common to both structures.

Some 130m NE of the shepherd’s house on the NW side of the path, are two adjoining dry-stone buildings, aligned approximately N-S. The S-most appears to be of more recent date, with square corners inside and out, and measures 7.3m x 4.6m over walls 0.7m thick. The walls stand to their original height of 1.5m and there is an entrance, 1.2m wide, in the sheltered NE wall. The N-most building has round corners inside and out, and measures 13.3m x 5.9m over walls 0.8m thick, where measurable. The walls stand up to 1.4m high in the NE corner, but are reduced to low footings along the E and W walls, which appear to have been robbed-out. There is an entrance 1m wide, in the NE wall and a small enclosure or twinning pen has been built inside the NE corner. The centre of the building is filled with small stones which have been neatly arranged and may have been used as a stack yard.

These buildings are situated in the SW side of a large enclosure, which is divided by two small streams. Aerial photographs show rig and furrow and later drainage channels running across this enclosure, down to the loch shore and below the present water level. On the ground, the remains of later post and wire fencing is also evident.

Another building lies above the adjoining buildings on the opposite (S) side of the path. It was not investigated in detail, but is of dry-stone construction and may be contemporary with the older adjoining building. There is also another, smaller, dry-stone walled enclosure, on this side of the path, occupying the rough, sloping ground between two un-named streams. The soil level has accumulated on the lower edge of this enclosure and the perimeter wall acts as a terrace at this point. The enclosure is subdivided internally by a series of small banks which appear to be unconnected with the nineteenth century sheep farm and almost certainly earlier.

The 1st Edition of the OS 6-inch map (Inverness-shire, Island of Skye 1878, sheet xviii) shows five roofed buildings, the sheepfold and three enclosures. The roofed buildings correspond with the shepherd’s house, store and adjoining buildings just described; but also include a second building lying behind the shepherd’s house and a building lying within the N part of the sheepfold. The older building opposite the adjoining buildings is not shown. The accompanying object name book describes Armishader as 'a house one storey, thatched and in bad repair with an enclosure or two of arable'.

The 2nd Edition OS 6-inch map (revised 1901) edition shows two roofed buildings (the shepherd’s house and store), one partly-roofed building (the adjoining buildings) and one unroofed building (the sheepfold building).

Information from SRP Storr Lochs, July 2011.

Reference (July 2011 - July 2011)

Creation of 1st Edition map extract for SRP site record.


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