Sunday, 11 March 2012

A Lonely Cottage

To the north of Sanna a ridge runs east-west, its highest point, Dun Ban, the pale fort, being a much visited spot for those who enjoy rambling in the hills and taking in the views across the Minches to Eigg, Muck and Skye. In the picture, the ridge can be seen beyond the houses of the township.

Tucked close against its southern face against the weather is a line of stone buildings. Trees grow around and within them, bracken chokes their rooms, brambles wind their canes across the paths that passed their doors.

The largest is a substantial building with thick walls and the characteristic rounded corners of local croft houses, and a window at the front beside the door - all evidence that it was, at some time, inhabited, the other buildings being byres.

One wonders who lived in this cottage, someone who didn't want to be part of the villages of Sanna or Plocaig, which is only a few hundred metres away; someone who enjoyed their own company; someone who may once have used an enamel teapot.


  1. It might have been a ‘poor house’. When there was a tragedy in the family and anyone was left homeless, the community got together and built a house for them so that they would have a roof over their heads. These tended to be built in areas no one else wanted or where the land was not so fertile. The 'Rubh Dubh’ in Portuairk is a good example. My grandfather James MacMillan and the villagers of Portuairk & Achosnich built it for old leeezie after her husband died. It is in very beautiful place but at that time, clearly that would not be a priority. It is very exposed and over the hill where there is no 'in bye’. Helen.

    1. Helen,I am tracing my family history and wonder if your grandfather would have been Captain James Macmillan who was a master mariner and he was one of seven sons and had one sister? If you could reply here that would be great or you could email me at Thanks, Bonnie Macmillan

    2. To the author of this diary, I am researching family history and wonder if you can be of any help. My family come from Portuairk, my great great grandfather is Hugh Macmillan, also known as Red Hugh. He lived in Portuairk until his death in 1934. He had 7 sons and 1 daughter, four of his sons were James, Donald, Hugh and John. James, Donald and Hugh all became master mariners and John held a position in an oil company in New York. His 1 daughter married Mr Duncan Cameron of Girgidale Farm. Are there any of his descendents still on the penninsula? I intend to visit this summer 2013 and would like to connect in some way if possible. Thanks, Bonnie Macmillan

  2. Remarkable images. Walking in the New England woods leads to similar scenes and similar questions.

  3. Hi Bonnie -

    I have passed your comment on to Helen, and will see what I can find out for you.

    Jon Haylett