Fàilte! (Welcome!)

Fàilte! (Welcome!)
This blog is the result of my ongoing research into the people, places and events that have shaped the Western Isles of Scotland and, in particular, the 'Siamese-twins' of Harris and Lewis.
My interest stems from the fact that my Grandfather was a Stornowegian and, until about four years ago, that was the sum total of my knowledge, both of him and of the land of his birth.
I cannot guarantee the accuracy of everything that I have written (not least because parts are, perhaps, pioneering) but I have done my best to check for any errors.
My family mainly lived along the shore of the Sound of Harris, from An-t-Ob and Srannda to Roghadal, but one family 'moved' to Direcleit in the Baighs...

©Copyright 2011 Peter Kerr All rights reserved

Monday, 19 March 2012

Berneray Mill

There are no written records regarding a mill on Berneray, Harris that I know of; no millers are recorded in the censuses from 1841 onwards, there is no place name indicating the site of a mill, no identified archaeological evidence.

On Bald’s 1805 Map of Harris, however, is labelled a 'Mill' sited in Rushgarry.
An aerial photograph of the area may be seen online where, if one follows the river near the middle of the image upstream from the sea, the ‘Mill’ on the map appears to be located on the left bank just above the ruins to be seen on its right bank and with which it may have been associated.

This raises several intriguing questions:
When was the mill built? Is it ancient or, perhaps, part of the developments introduced by Captain Macleod after he bought the whole of Harris in 1779?
Why did the mill apparently cease to be used during the first half of the 19thC? Had it been milling grain from Pabbay and thus become redundant when that island, which had at one time been ‘the granary of Harris’, was Cleared for a sheep farm in the 1840s?
Was it a grain mill or, perhaps, another ‘fulling’ mill like that built by Captain Maleod in South Harris?
How is it that this significant place never gained the honour of being named nor of otherwise being mentioned in writing? This might indicate that it was both relatively ‘modern’ and short-lived, thus supporting the idea of a link to Captain Macleod whose efforts ceased with his death in 1790 and whose son,  Alexander Hume Macleod, apparently commissioned Bald’s map.

The only way that the answers to these questions may be found is by a proper archaeological survey of the site but meanwhile my conjecture is that it was a grain mill and that the same boats that would later bring the people of Pabbay to pray in Berneray, following the building of the Parliamentary Church in 1829, would have been bringing grain to be milled in this now long-forgotten mill.

Update: Whilst conducting research into place names in Berneray for the historical society I was informed that the place marked on Bald's map was where women gathered to mill grain using hand querns.

1 comment:

  1. I just found your blog through Geneabloggers when I was looking for my Scottish ancestor (John D. Laurie).

    Regards, Jim
    Hidden Genealogy Nuggets