Traditional Housing in the Outer Hebrides



typical Hebridean black house
(GHHT hostel in Garenin/Isle of Lewis)
the stones holding down the thatch clearly visible


one of the few remaining buildings
with the thatched roof overlapping the outside walls

In some areas the traditional old black house has been lived in until recently, although the former practice of living under the same roof (i.e. in more or less the same one room because of "natural warmth") with cattle, sheep, poltry, etc. had been abandoned earlier...

The thatch, usually made from barley straw and heather, is held down by ropes tied to stones and can withstand severe gales

The double drystone walls with a filling of earth and peat keep the heat of the peat fires inside during winter and make the (rarely extreme) summer temperatures bearable if one stays inside

Typically, these buildings can be found on soft slopes for reasons of drainage

examples of this architecture are still to be seen on most Hebridean islands ...


the progress of the reconstruction of Garenin Black House Village / Westside, Isle of Lewis

the GHHT hostel,
the first building rethatched ,
at present surrounded by
an archeological and
construction site,
(considerably limiting
the usual quietness
of the hostel area)

opposite the GHHT hostel
and up the path,
the probably last building
to be reconstructed
also opposite the GHHT hostel
and up the path,
next to the GHHT hostel
and down the path,
a building with the walls
almost finished,
obvious cheating with
concrete and cement
2001: bottom left: the hostel,
now surrounded by the considerable number
of the rebuilt black houses

2001: middle right: the building that was completed second
only a few years ago ...
the roof has already visibly suffered from the elements
(compare picture above = 2 years before)

home
back to chapter 4