The Report on the Social Conditions of the People of Lewis (1902) by the Crofters Commission gives a detailed account of the traditional Lewis blackhouse, which agitated the minds of reformers from Sir James Matheson onward, and the measures taken from about 1880 to improve it, particularly with regard to sanitation.
Some recent thoughts on walrus tusk and what we might yet learn about our Chessmen.
Here’s an album of most of our Reef photos. Is something missing? Send it to us!
A short letter from Dolly Doctor to another great Uig historian, Murdo Macleod (Murchadh Chaluim Sheoras, Crowlista and Glasgow), about the old Stornoway Castle and DD’s activities with the Old Folks Association and his Folk Museum.
Work is underway in Reef on a new commemorative landmark commissioned by the Bhaltos Community Trust to mark the impact of land reform in Uig and throughout the island. The monument has been designed by Will Maclean and Marion Leven, who also created those at Pairc, Aignish and Gress.
We’ve been recording the abundant pew graffiti in Baile na Cille church – it’s a common phenomenon, evidently. Here are some thoughts on the motivation behind the scratching.
One of the popular schemes of the Congested Districts Board (1898-1912) was the provision of bulls, rams and stallions, on loan, to crofting parishes where the stock was in need of improvement. Uig did particularly well on the bulls, it seems.
Enormous thanks to Angus Macdonald for this splendid map of Uig, with Norse place names.
Mangersta, like most occupied townships in Lewis, was relotted in 1849, with 15 crofts laid out and tenancies and rents allocated. Here we give the full tenant list for 1849-50, with tenancy and family changes up to the (voluntary) clearing of the village in 1872, when the people went mostly to Doune Carloway.
The late 1840s were years of desperation in Lewis (as elsewhere), with much of the population near to starvation and dependent on ‘destitution meal’ from the Proprietor. The solution that presented itself was assisted and effectively compulsory emigration; here are the numbers fixed on for emigration from Uig in 1851.
This recent Hogmanay fell on a Sunday, so the fireworks in Stornoway finished at 11pm on New Year’s Eve, and most celebrations were delayed to the Monday. Forty years ago, the same applied.
From the Royal Edinburgh Society, an account of birds observed or discussed by Professor Duns during a visit to Lewis in 1865, when birding was largely about shooting. Includes a comprehensive species list and a theory on why house-sparrows dislike blackhouses.
26 Treasures brings together 26 writers, responding in 62 words to selected objects from the National Museum of Scotland. Amongst the inspirations are the Uig Chessmen. Exhibition on at NMS from 1 Dec 2011 to 29 Jan 2012.
Following their Scottish tour, which culminated in a day’s ceilidh in Uig, some of the Chessmen have gone over the water for a winter at the Met.
Thanks to Donalda Wishart for these images of the fank at Cleidir (Crowlista) in 1975.
This photo of a lovely blackhouse was taken by DJ Maclean, who was headmaster at Valtos School. It is obviously somewhere in Lewis, though not necessarily in Uig and we certainly can’t place it.
Baile na Cille Church is in private ownership now and renovation work will start fairly soon, but with the public opening as part of Doors Open Days we’ve had an opportunity to explore the building in some detail. One of the most personal touches is the large variety of names and initials carved on the pews by (mostly) boys.
Six Lewis Chessmen from the collections of National Museums Scotland and the British Museum are to go on display for a short time at Uig Museum on Tuesday 13 September. All welcome, admission free.
A fine photo of Baile na Cille kirk session. Taken in 1976 at the 25th Anniversary presentation for Rev Angus Macfarlane, Baile na Cille. Rev Macfarlane retired in 1979, at which point the congregation merged with that of the Miavaig church.
This drawing of Stac Dhomhnaill Chaim – the fortified rock on the Mangersta coast, in which Donald Cam Macaulay lived – is from 1849 and shows the crumbly access to the stack even then.