Thursday, 16 February 2017


We walked from Ockle to the mouth of the Allt Eilagadale this morning in weather which started with heavy rain and then kept promising sun - but never quite delivered. Despite this, it's a glorious walk through wild and rugged countryside, except....

....where, a little upstream from the burn's mouth, there is some arable land, enough to have supported perhaps three families. Two of the dwellings are on the west side of the burn, on the right in this picture, while the third is a little higher on the east.

All three dwellings have a layout which suggest they are late 18th to early 19th century construction but they also have a feature which we have seen elsewhere in pre-crofting dwellings but which we have yet to explain.

This picture is of the more northerly of the two buildings, and the structure in question is a metre-square stone 'box' seen in the far corner. It's about 0.5m to 0.75m high and might be a container of some sort, perhaps for storage.

This quick sketch gives some idea of the structure. It took up a considerable amount of the space within a building which would have been cramped, so whatever its purpose it was important.

They are usually located in the corner of the building but the other dwelling at Eilagadale has it beside the door.

Has anyone any idea of what these may have been?


  1. Field Mice must always have been a problem. Perhaps the walled recess may have been a storage bin for seeds. Capped with wood or a large flat stone - perhaps lined with daub? - a neatly built alcove could have been secure enough?

  2. I think this is a very reasonable suggestion. My one concern is that it is so space-consuming in such a small dwelling, Wouldn't something wooden have been as good but less bulky? Jon

  3. Could the structure have been inserted after the original building? Similar small spaces were constructed by shepherds for use at lambing time, I believe to encourage ewes which had lost their lambs to adopt either orphans or one of a pair of twins.