Thursday, 30 January 2014

A House by the Shore

There are walks which we've been doing now for some twenty years.  This one, along the beach to the east of Mingary Castle, is one of our favourites as it's almost always deserted, has more flotsam along the tidelines than anywhere else, and is the haunt of otters, eagles, sea trout, and red deer.

A damp winter's day doesn't make for the best walking.  The rocks are slippery, and even the shingle seems to give way more readily than usual.  That day, the cloud was low and drizzle frequent but, every now and then, a weak sun peered out and transformed the scene.

At this point an rusty-posted deer fence comes down to the shore.  It's easy to cross along the beach as the wires are down, and the deer have exploited several gaps higher up, but it's an interesting point on the walk because it offers another example of how blind one can be.

Near it, not more than a few metres behind the top of the beach, buried in brambles and bracken, and with a small hazel growing in the middle of it, lies a ruin.  We must have passed within spitting distance many times before, and not seen it.

At first glance it resembles the many small stone-walled houses which date back to the early years of the 19th century and beyond, but it's in very good condition, with most walls standing, and its dimensions are unusual.  Because of the undergrowth, we couldn't measure it, but while its width looks to be somewhere around the usual 5m, it's much longer than other houses, at least 10m.

The Raptor knew of it, and it was he who suggested checking the old OS maps.  It's marked on the 1856 OS 1" First Series, and clearly marked - at bottom right - on this clip from the 1872 25".  Two things here are interesting.  Firstly, the map names it as Coiremhuillin, the name of the clachan which once occupied the area in the middle of this map clipping; and, secondly, it's marked in pink, so it was roofed in 1872.  It is roofed on all the later 19th century maps, but from the turn of the century it disappears from the OS's maps.

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