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So what is a Sheiling?

It’s a summer dwelling for the herdsperson while the stock, in Scotland usually cattle, feed on the higher pastures.  Ruins of these dwellings can be seen in many parts of upland Scotland; they remained in use until the  early19th century when land enclosure ended the practice. It can also refer to the pasture land.  The hill farms of Northumberland used the same system, and if you travel around the hills of Wales you might notice many buildings called Hafod. These were the summer dwellings of the shepherds, distinct from the farmhouses Hendre found down on the gentler valley floors.

But this house doesn’t fit that description,  it’s not on high pasture, the sea washes  the bottom of the garden. Because even though parts of the house have been here for over 150 years it hasn’t always been called Sheiling. Many years ago it may have been Clachan cottage, perhaps part of Clachan farm just over the bridge? An early postcard view shows hay stacked in the “garden” which suggests livestock. The settlement around the bridge was once bigger, there are remains of at least two other cottages nearby and another one clearly marked on the old maps has disappeared without trace.  Even before the bridge it seems to have been a crossing point to and from the mainland.

We’ll be keeping the name though, because we’re offering a temporary home. Though please, don’t bring your cows!

old photo

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