Ramscraigs - A Caithness Story

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


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Blackhouse 2 Interior 2.JPG
Blackhouse Interior - Cottar's House839 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".
Shieling 1.JPG
Newtonmore Sheiling Hut (2)750 viewsA second example of a sheiling hut near the Baile Gean village in Newtonmore.
Kiln Exterior.JPG
Baile Gean Kiln Barn Exterior714 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.
Birch Trees Across the Dunbeath Water.JPG
Dunbeath Water In Flood708 viewsThe picturesque Dunbeath Water swollen with rain after a storm. Note the stand of birch trees to the left which are mentioned in many of Neil M. Gunn's stories about Dunbeath and Caithness.
Kiln Floor.JPG
Kiln Barn - Drying Floor707 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.
Newtonmore Village 1.JPG
Baile Gean Village696 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.
Blackhouse 2 Interior 1.JPG
Blackhouse Interior - Cottar's House (2)694 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.
Newtonmore Dyke.JPG
Baile Gean Village Head Dyke693 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.
Tacksmans House 2.JPG
Tacksman's House Interior691 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.
Kiln Interior.JPG
Kiln Barn Interior677 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.
Barn Interior.JPG
Barn Interior663 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.
Weaver Interior.JPG
Interior of the Weaver's Cottage656 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.
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