Highlands & Islands

Roof work: Re-thatching a 136-year-old blackhouse

Blackhouse Image copyright Crown Copyright HES

The roof of a traditional blackhouse on the Isle of Lewis has been given a new thatch.

The property at Arnol was built in the 1880s on a site that had been occupied by people for more than 2,000 years.

Blackhouses were built in the area by generations of crofting families until 1900. The home that survives today was still inhabited up to 1966.

Image copyright © Historic Environment Scotland

About every 10 years, the thatch on the blackhouse is completely re-thatched.

Earlier this year, the conservation unit at Historic Environment Scotland worked on a full removal and reinstating of the thatch.

Image copyright © Historic Environment Scotland

The team, aided by volunteers, used traditional skills and materials, including driftwood from nearby beaches to replace any rotting timbers.

To allow the work to be done in wet weather, a large plastic covering was built over scaffolding to completely cover the blackhouse.

Image copyright © Historic Environment Scotland
Image copyright © Historic Environment Scotland
Image copyright © Historic Environment Scotland
Image copyright © Historic Environment Scotland

Following the completion of the re-thatching the blackhouse, which is designated as a monument, was reopened to the public.

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