The roofs of the blackhouses at Garenin, on the isle of Lewis, in the outer Hebrides. Although the Lewis blackhouses have a look of real antiquity, most of
the upstanding ruins were built less than 150 years ago. Many were
still roofed until the 1970s
but without the necessary annual repairs deteriorated rapidly; as
people moved into more modern dwellings with indoor plumbing and better
heating, most have fallen into ruin. However, blackhouses are
increasingly being restored, especially for use as holiday
The blackhouses on the Isle of Lewis
have roofs thatched with cereal straw over turf and thick, stone-lined
walls with an earthen core. Roof timbers rise from the inner face of the
walls providing a characteristic ledge at the wall head (tobhta
This gives access to the roof for thatching. Both the animals and
occupants shared the same door, living at different ends of the same
space. Several long ranges, or rooms, were usually built alongside each
other, each one having its own ridgeline giving them the very
distinctive look of the Lewis blackhouse.
A side effect of the wet environment of Scotland.
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