Ramscraigs - A Caithness Story

The history, genealogy and folklore of the Henderson family of Ramscraigs, Berriedale and Dunbeath, Caithness


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Barn Interior.JPG
Barn Interior419 viewsThe interior of a re-constructed highland barn at the Highland Folk Museum in Newtonmore, Scotland. This structure features an open weave wattle wall to allow the breeze to help separate the grain from the chaff.
Blackhouse 2 Interior 1.JPG
Blackhouse Interior - Cottar's House (2)477 viewsThe living quarters inside the Cottar's house at Baile Gean in Newtonmore. The central stone hearth is common to highland blackhouses, and the low chairs are arranged around the central peat fire. This type of modest house was a typical family dwelling, and is likely the kind of house our Henderson ancestors occupied in Knockfin.
Blackhouse 2 Interior 2.JPG
Blackhouse Interior - Cottar's House582 viewsThis is the interior of a highland blackhouse at the Baile Gean. This photo shows the dirt floor with the rough timber couples, and long rafters or "Cabers" framing the thatched roof. Also prominent is a re-creation of a 1700s "Box Bed".
Cottars House.JPG
Baile Gean Villiage395 viewsA wide shot showing the stockman's house, the burn (stream), new construction on the left, and the kiln barn center.
Kiln Exterior.JPG
Baile Gean Kiln Barn Exterior433 viewsAn outside shot showing the Baile Gean kiln barn being rebuilt by the museum staff. Note the roof only has the turf layer, and is just starting to be thatched.
Kiln Floor.JPG
Kiln Barn - Drying Floor415 viewsThe drying floor of the Baile Gean kiln, showing the wattle grate where the grain would be stacked. Hot air from the firebox would travel up through this grate and dry the grain.
Kiln Interior.JPG
Kiln Barn Interior394 viewsAnother feature shared by Baile Gean and Knockfin include a grain kiln. These structures were used to dry the grain in the cold, wet Scottish weather. Sheaves of grain were stacked in this structure while peat fires burned in a firebox below the floor to provide hot air to dry the grain. During my visit the kiln was in the process of being re-built, and the museum staff were kind enough to let me photograph inside.
Newtonmore Dyke.JPG
Baile Gean Village Head Dyke410 viewsIt was typical for highland towns to be surrounded by a drystone wall, or "head dyke" that both marked the boundary of the village, and kept the livestock from wandering unsupervised through people's gardens and homes. The dyke is clearly visible with the tacksman's house behind, and the grain barn / stackyard in the background, left.
Newtonmore Village 1.JPG
Baile Gean Village409 viewsA wide angle view of the Baile Gean village, in the foreground is a stockman's house where the family kept hogs and sheep. The tacksman's house is behind the large tree on the right. The museum staff is seen constructing a new structure in the background, left.
Shieling 1.JPG
Newtonmore Sheiling Hut (2)462 viewsA second example of a sheiling hut near the Baile Gean village in Newtonmore.
Shieling 2.JPG
Newtonmore Sheiling Hut333 viewsUphill from Baile Gean are a pair of sheiling huts, small rough structures constructed to provide shelter during the summer. During the longer days, the cattle, sheep and goats were moved from the village to higher pasture land, and the people assigned to tend the flocks lived in these huts. These pastures were at times many miles away from the village.
Tacksmans House 2.JPG
Tacksman's House Interior429 viewsAn interior view of the Tacksman's blackhouse at Baile Gean, Newtonmore. The central peat hearth his hosting a wonderful smokey fire. The low chairs are similar to what would have been typical furniture in such a house, along with the dirt floors. Tartan fabrics hang on the walls to better insulate against the cold winds, and provide decor.
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