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Lewis, South Shawbost Mill

Horizontal Mill (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Lewis, South Shawbost Mill

Classification Horizontal Mill (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) Shawbost, Norse Mill

Canmore ID 4199

Site Number NB24NW 10

NGR NB 24453 46349

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2024.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Western Isles
  • Parish Barvas
  • Former Region Western Isles Islands Area
  • Former District Western Isles
  • Former County Ross And Cromarty

Recording Your Heritage Online

Shawbost (Siabost) Crofting township and former weaving centre with several churches, one housing an old fashioned museum with a fascinating assortment of artefacts. Norse Mill and Kiln (Muileann Ain Choinnich) A traditional thatched horizontal click mill and drying kiln, the only working example of its kind in the Western Isles. Disused from the 1930s, it was restored by the local school in 1968/9, but again fell into disrepair and was reconstructed in 1996 by Stuart Bagshaw & Assocs. for the Norse Mill Society. The two oval structures have double-skinned walls of drystone rubble, their thatched roofs neatly roped down about twin crowsticks (maidefeannaig). The mill, standing athwart its burn, has an ungeared mechanism of timeless simplicity, little changed since Norse times. The millwheel, in a lower chamber, is connected by a vertical drive shaft to the permanently fixed millstone above. The flag-lined lade and steeper, timber-lined shoot have also been beautifully reconstructed. There were hundreds of horizontal grain mills scattered throughout Lewis by the 1840s, and maps show that by the turn of the century this number had increased.

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

Archaeology Notes

NB24NW 10 24453 46349

(Location cited as NB 244 463). Norse mill, South Shawbot. An oval drystone rubble building, restored in 1968-9 by pupils of Shawbost Secondary school. The tirl has eight paddles and the lade is bottomed with flagstones.

J R Hume 1977.


Field Visit (9 June 2015)

NB 24445 46333 An excerpt of text on Canmore explains that these two structures are a ‘traditional thatched horizontal click mill and drying kiln’ that were used until the 1930s. The buildings were restored in the late 1960s, but again fell into disrepair until they were ‘reconstructed in 1996 by Stuart Bagshaw & Assocs. for the Norse Mill Society’ (Miers, M. (2008) The Western Seaboard: an illustrated architectural guide. Edinburgh). Both structures are oval in shape and have straw-thatched roof with a continuous straw ridge. The roof has been entirely netted, including across the ridge, which has been weighted down with stones and rope. There is a continuous string of stones around the middle of the roof horizontally, attached to vertical ropes that pass over the ridge and down the other side. Twin ‘horns’ protrude from either end of the ridge and are used to secure some of the ropes for weighting the stones. The netting is additionally weighted by stones placed on the edge of the netting along the wallhead, which is additionally weighted with turf. In some places, the turf from the wallhead has begun to grow up onto the straw thatch, particularly upon a lower area of the south elevation. The buildings are not occupied but are open to the public for viewing as an example of a once common building type on the Western Isles.

Visited by Zoe Herbert (SPAB) 09 June 2015, survey no.229


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