Saturday, 9 May 2015


Reidh-dhail is marked on the OS map as a settlement some 3km to the west of Ormsaigbeg.  We've reached it before from the Ormsaigbeg side, but it was a hard walk and the bracken was high, so yesterday, coming to it from the lighthouse direction, we seized the opportunity to take a closer look.

From the top of Druim Reidh-dhalach to the west of it, a large field, surrounded by the remains of a stone wall and with one subdivision, can easily be seen.  There are other areas of land, such as that in the foreground, which were obviously once worked.  The shadowed hill at top right is Beinn na Seilg.

Once we'd walked down to the settlement, we were able to find seven stone structures, one to the west, one to the north, and the remaining five to the east of the field.  In addition, there were more old fields, much less intensively worked, to the southeast.  A burn flows down into the settlement from the east, and turns to enter the Sound of Mull at the bay called An Acairseid, which was also the port for the settlement.

The stone structures are of two sorts.  Most are like this one, about two to three metres square, and very typical of the better sort of shieling huts which are to be found all over West Ardnamurchan.  Shieling huts were sleeping places in summer settlements, where the women and children used to go, with the township's animals, while the men cared for the arable fields around the clachan.  They were not usually places where crops were grown in well-tilled fields.

So this much more substantial building, 7m by 4.5m - a typical size for a clachan dwelling - is interesting, as it suggests that at least one family, at some time in Reidh-dhail's history, lived here permanently.

The name Reidh-dhail has a Norse origin, as a result of which some work has been done on the settlement - see link here.  Sadly, the structures we found all look to have been built in the last few centuries, and none have a Norse design.

The satellite view provided by Bing Maps shows virtually all the features we found.

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