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Blackhouse Museum

The Isle of Lewis is not actually an island, rather it is the northern two-thirds of the largest of the Western Isles, sharing a mountainous land border with Harris to the south, There are also many sites of international archaeological significance such as the Callinish Stones on Lewis which are over 5000 years old and some believe older and more relevant than Stonehenge.

The small village of Arnol lies on the coastal side of the main A858 as it makes its way down the north west side of Lewis, at the far end of the village is the Blackhouse Museum, an unmissable visit for anyone wanting to understand a way of life here.

The Blackhouse Museum is run by Historic Environment Scotland, it is open all year round, apart from Sundays when it is closed.

The museum is part of a fascinating complex that comprises of the blackhouse, itself was built in the 1880's and lived in until 1966, and the "white house", a cottage opposite, furnished as it was in the 1950s and representing the world into which blackhouse residents moved.

A blackhouse usually comprised a long narrow building, often with one or more additional buildings laid parallel to it and sharing a common wall.

  • Isle of Lewis Geolocation Latitude 58.19233° N Longitude -6.597875° E
  • Isle of Lewis Postcode HS1, HS2
  • Isle of Lewis Telephone Dialling Code 01851
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The walls were made from an inner and outer layer of unmortared stones, the gap between them filled with peat and earth, the roof would be based on a wooden frame, resting on the inner stone walls, giving the very characteristic wall-ledge, over the frame would be laid an overlapping layer of heathery turves, and over this would be laid a layer of thatch, the thatch would be secured by an old fishing net or by twine, attached to large rocks whose weight held everything down, more rocks would be laid around the bottom of the roof, where it met the inner wall.

The roof traditionally had no chimney, the smoke from the peat fire in the central hearth simply finding its own way out as it could, the smoked thatch was considered an excellent fertiliser, it was normal to strip it off for this purpose and re thatch the roof each year, the floor of the living area of the blackhouse would usually be flagged.

The animals would be at one end of the house, and in the byre area there would be earth flooring, usually with a drain for some of the animal waste.

Part of the blackhouse would also be used as a barn for storage and processing of grain and other products.

Next to the white house there are the walls of another series of blackhouses, showing an alternative layout to the restored Number 42.

Completing the complex is an excellent visitor centre in another nearby converted cottage, offering background information about the blackhouse, using a cutaway model seeing the living conditions that the local Scottish people had to endure, there are weaving demonstrations with the weaver answering all your questions and seeing the Harris tweed being weaved. this is a Evocative place well worth a visit, a short walk down from the car park is a good site to see seabirds at RSPB reserve.

Pinit Fg En Rect Red 20

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