Monday, June 06, 2005
These are reconstructed black houses on Lewis. Dozens of ruined and abandoned black houses dot the landscape. They were abandoned in the 1970s (and before) when the government built council houses for the crofters. The main fuel on the island was peat and this smokes badly -- thus giving them a blackened appearance. Even today, it is possible to see piles of peat that crofters have dug up and are drying for fuel. The land was basically farmed in a medieval strip fashion so that the plots go back from the sea and all crofters had a mixture of the fertile machair (pasture over sand), kelp beds and the rough heather. The blackhouses are starting to be done up as holiday homes but they are very small with at most one or two rooms. These houses are used as a museum as well as a youth hostel.