Ramscraigs - A Caithness Story

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


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Weaver Interior.JPG
Interior of the Weaver's Cottage397 viewsA small highland blackhouse structure at Baile Gean that is devoted to weaving. This loom is a re-construction of a period loom, and is actually used by museum staff to create tartan fabrics. In a highland village, not everyone worked the land. Some people earned their keep through weaving, iron smithing and shoe making.Oct 03, 2011
Cottars House.JPG
Baile Gean Villiage393 viewsA wide shot showing the stockman's house, the burn (stream), new construction on the left, and the kiln barn center.Oct 02, 2011
Kiln Exterior.JPG
Baile Gean Kiln Barn Exterior429 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. Oct 02, 2011
Kiln Floor.JPG
Kiln Barn - Drying Floor411 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.Oct 02, 2011
Kiln Interior.JPG
Kiln Barn Interior391 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.Oct 02, 2011
Newtonmore Dyke.JPG
Baile Gean Village Head Dyke406 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.Oct 02, 2011
Newtonmore Village 1.JPG
Baile Gean Village406 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.Oct 02, 2011
Shieling 1.JPG
Newtonmore Sheiling Hut (2)460 viewsA second example of a sheiling hut near the Baile Gean village in Newtonmore.Oct 02, 2011
Shieling 2.JPG
Newtonmore Sheiling Hut331 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.Oct 02, 2011
Tacksmans House 2.JPG
Tacksman's House Interior427 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.Oct 02, 2011
Tacksmans House 3.JPG
Tacksman's House Exterior389 viewsAn exterior view of the Tacksman's house at Baile Gean. This is the main house in the villiage, and would be the family of the man who held the tack, or lease for the lands of the village. This structure, more than the others, helped me better interpret the ruins at Knockfin, as the foundation for the main house are still clearly visible, and actually quite similar in size to this blackhouse structure. Note the tartan rugs hanging on the door.Oct 02, 2011
Blackhouse 2 Interior 1.JPG
Blackhouse Interior - Cottar's House (2)474 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.Oct 02, 2011
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