NB3348 : Shieling hut, Tom Mr Urrahag, Isle of Lewis

taken 6 years ago, near to Brue, Isle of Lewis And Harris, Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Scotland

Shieling hut, Tom Mòr Urrahag, Isle of Lewis
Shieling hut, Tom Mr Urrahag, Isle of Lewis
Looking towards Beinn Bharabhais and Beinn Mholach.

This example of what a shieling hut would have looked like was built by the Barvas and Brue Historical Society in 2017. The upright stone is a clach tachais (scratching stone) for use by cows to relieve irritation from flies or ticks.

Shielings were moorland summer grazings for cattle. Shieling huts (often also referred to as shielings) were dwellings located within the shieling. They 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 .

Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   © Copyright Claire Pegrum and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
Geographical Context: Moorland Place: Isle of Lewis Primary Subject: Shelter other tags: Reconstructed Shieling Hut Click a tag, to view other nearby images.
1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright
1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright
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Grid Square
NB3348, 12 images   (more nearby 🔍)
Claire Pegrum   (more nearby)
Date Taken
Friday, 1 June, 2018   (more nearby)
Wednesday, 3 March, 2021
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NB 33047 48409 [1m precision]
WGS84: 58:20.5584N 6:33.8184W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NB 33047 48409
View Direction
South-southeast (about 157 degrees)
Clickable map
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Image Type (about): geograph 
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