NB3949 : Shieling hut, Ath a' Mhil, Isle of Lewis

taken 1 year ago, 4 km from Barabhas, Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Great Britain

Shieling hut, Ath a' Mhàil, Isle of Lewis
Shieling hut, Ath a' Mhil, Isle of Lewis
The OS Name Book of 1848-1852 describes Ath a' Mhil as, "a number of shealings (sic) which have been built of peat, moss, and stone, situated on both sides of Gleann Ordail. Six of them are in ruins: the remainder are occupied by persons from Sheadair Village. They are surrounded by a patch of arable. Signifies Rent Ford or Kiln".
Shielings
Shielings were moorland summer grazings for cattle. Shieling huts (often also referred to as shielings) were dwellings located within the shieling. There were usually occupied from May until the flitting in September. In early May the men of a village would go onto the moor to check and repair the shieling huts. They would be joined by the women and children for one night before the men returned to the village to tend to crops or to travel away for summer work such as fishing. The women and children would spend the summer at the shielings tending the cattle and making cheese and butter, some of which was for immediate use but most was salted to preserve it for the winter. Peat cutting for fuel would also be done. Evenings would be spent making music and story telling. Visits were made between the shielings of different villages.

The shieling huts were made from materials available in the immediate vicinity. They usually had walls made of stone or turf, turf roofs and compacted earth or clay floors. In coastal areas and on the islands rafters would be made from locally collected driftwood. Usually there would be a single doorway, facing away from the prevailing wind (although some shieling huts have two doors opposite each other), and often no windows. Furniture built into shieling huts included stone or turf beds covered with heather, turf seats and cupboards and niches built into the stone wall, often one above the door. Other furniture would be carried out onto the moor for the season. In places where the practice of using shielings continued into the 20th century, shieling huts can be found which are constructed making more extensive use of timber than in the traditional type, along with other materials such as tin and bitumen. There are also examples of buses and caravans used as shieling huts.

The Clearances and ongoing changes in agricultural methods meant that the shieling tradition had generally ended by the close of the nineteenth century. In places it continued for longer and, particularly on Lewis, some shieling huts are still used today during the peat cutting season and as summer retreats.

The remains of shieling huts can be seen as

changes in vegetation: ND1340 : Shieling site by the Allt a' Cheracher ;
shieling mounds where successive shieling huts have been built on the same site: NB5059 : Shieling mounds by the Abhainn Dhail, Isle of Lewis ;
footings: NB5357 : Shieling footings beside the Feadan Mòr, Isle of Lewis ; and
more substantial remains: NB3040 : Shieling above Gleann Leitir, Isle of Lewis .

Examples of modern shielings are shown at:

NB5458 : Shieling, Airigh A' Bhealaich, Isle of Lewis and NB5458 : Disused shieling, Airigh A' Bhealaich, Isle of Lewis .
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NB3949, 2 images   (more nearby )
Photographer
  (find more nearby)
Date Taken
Sunday, 11 June, 2017   (more nearby)
Submitted
Tuesday, 11 July, 2017
Geographical Context
Farm, Fishery, Market Gardening  Housing, Dwellings  Islands  Derelict, Disused  Moorland 
Ruin (from Tags)
Shieling Hut 
Place (from Tags)
Isle of Lewis 
Primary Subject of Photo
Shelter 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NB 39447 49729 [1m precision]
WGS84: 58:21.4984N 6:27.3688W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NB 39447 49729
View Direction
West-southwest (about 247 degrees)
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Image Type (about): geograph  (Second Visitor for NB3949) · First in 5 Years (TPoint) (about)
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