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Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Trip Back In Time: Skye Museum of Island Life

When I visited Scotland, my stop at the wonderful Skye Museum of Island Life in Kilmuir was one of the most interesting and memorable. It is located close to the northern tip of the Trotternish peninsula. It is a beautiful and remote area. To get here from Portree (the capital of Skye) you must travel about 18 miles, and most of it on single lane road. See map below. (I borrowed this from their website so you could see the exact location.)
This outdoor museum is like a trip back in time to see how residents of Isle of Skye lived a hundred or more years ago. The seven stone cottages are the genuine articles and their thatch roofs are fascinating. Since Skye is almost devoid of trees, stone was the only material available in early days for building. Some of the walls are three feet thick. Timber had to be used for the rafters, of course, and the residents got this from the ocean when (wooden) shipwrecks washed up on shore. The thatch is a locally grown reed, and beneath this is sod or turf.This (above) is called the The Old Croft House with mill stones sitting outside. It is the largest building on this site. It contains three rooms, the most important of which is the kitchen where the fire was kept in the fireplace year round. The family gathered here to stay warm, to eat, etc. The fireplace used in the 1800s was an improvement and replaced the earlier central hearth which caused the whole house to be smoky. This house also contains a children’s bedroom with two box-beds, and a smaller parents’ bedroom. The Old Croft House was built at the beginning of the 1800s and was a real family home for about 150 years.

Also included here is a barn containing old farm equipment to be used with horses, a smithy (above) showing how farming implements and other things like horseshoes were made. If I'm remembering correctly, we were not allowed to take photos inside the buildings. But if you visit the website, you will see the inside of the smithy on the front page. The Ceilidh House is another of the buildings. The Ceilidh (pronounced kei-li) House was where the people of the community would gather in the evenings to entertain themselves, especially during the long dark winters. (Since Skye is so far north, their winter nights are longer than ours here in most of the US.) They would tell stories, play music, sing, dance and socialize. The Ceilidh House now contains a large amount of historical material about Isle of Skye.

There is also a Weaver’s Cottage (above). Weavers made all the clothing worn by the community as well as blankets, curtains, or anything of fabric. The cloth was mostly wool and maybe some linen.

Here is a lovely view of the Western Isles or Outer Hebrides across the Minch.

One interesting side note, over 50% of the population of Kilmuir still speaks Scottish Gaelic.

Just to show you the contrast, here is a modern community on Skye.

I hope you enjoyed this wee visit to Isle of Skye.




Cynthia Owens said...

Hi Nicole, great post. It reminds me a bit of the folk park at Bunratty Castle, which is a typical nineteenth-century Irish village. I even found the exact cottage (well, pretty close, anyway) I described in "Coming Home" - the fisherman's cottage where Tom Flynn lives with his family in Ballycashel. Okay, well it seemed familiar to me, anyway. LOL
As for those Northern winters, could they be any longer than a Canadian winter? I sometimes have my doubts!

Teresa Reasor said...

Hey Nicole:
I'll be going to the Isle of Skye in about 3 weeks. It's one of the places that I most want to see in Scotland. I think you could drop me there for about a month and let me just look out at the water and write.
Thank you so much for sharing part of your trip with us!!
Teresa R.

Maeve said...

Thanks, Nicole, for the wonderful post. My husband and I are planning a trip to Scotland and Ireland this fall but our tour won't include the lovely Isle of Skye. It's breathtaking.

Lexi said...

Wonderful pictures and information! Thanks!

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

Beautiful photos, Nicole. Wouldn't it be interesting to go back in history just to see their lives in action?! When we visited Skye we went south and visited the MacDonald estate and loved it. Now I can see another visit is a must when we can get back to the beloved Scotland. Thanks for sharing. :)

Sally said...

These Isles are on my list of placs to visit. Thanks for sharing.

Nicole North said...

Thanks, everyone, for checking out my pics and commenting! I'd love to visit Ireland too. I bet Scottish winters are very similar to Canadian winters, Cynthia. :)

Teresa, Cool! I can't wait to hear all about your trip. Please let us know if you blog about it. Have fun!

Maeve, ditto! I can't wait to hear about your trip too. Scotland has a lot of amazing and beautiful places. Have a great time!

Lexi, when are you going back to Scotland? :)

Paisley, yes I'd love to do a bit of real time traveling to see what it was really like. I didn't get to go to the MacDonald estate, though I wanted to! I must go back too!

Thanks for checking it out, Sally! I bet you will love Isle of Skye.

Nancy said...

Fantastic! Lovely shots of ancient cottages. Do you know approx. when such homes were in use?

Pat McDermott said...

Love these pix, Nicole. Like going through a time portal, yes? I'm betting those cottages sparked a story idea or two for you!

Nicole North said...

Nancy thanks! It is an 1800s community. The old croft house was the actual home of a family in the 1800s.

Thanks Pat! Yes, I loved the time portal feel. It was very inspiring!

Jody said...

I was at this museum in 1994 and what struck me was how desolate it was. I am 5'10 and robust but the wind on the day we were there was so strong I got blown over twice. To think that this wind was common on that part of Skye and that the people lived and survived here was incredible. This is a must see if visiting Skye but be careful on those one lane roads, twice we came over a hill to find sheep and cows in the road. All of Skye is pretty much an open range at least it was still that in 1999 when I was last there. Even go trapped in my car because the sheep surrounded it in a gas station. Skye is like stepping back in time and this location is a must see. Lovely pictures.

Nicole North said...

Jody, thanks! I agree it is a desolate area. But maybe I didn't notice this as much because I live in the country. And I was definitely taken by the beauty. The wind was fairly calm while we were at the museum, but when we stopped at Kilt Rock not far away, a gale was coming in off the ocean and we were almost blown down. Very fun and exciting for us, although it could've been dangerous. Back in Broadford the wind was also fierce at times the evening before, and extremely cold for June.

We also came upon sheep in the road fairly often. This could be dangerous too. But I thought they were neat. Despite living in the country, I'm not used to seeing sheep or hairy cows. :)

Carol L. said...

Hi Nicole,
Amazing pictures. What a trip back in time . I'd love to go to Scotland one day. But thee pictures will do for now. :)
Thanks for sharing.
Carol L.

Kathryn Albright said...

Yes, I'm a day late, but I wanted to comment too. Loved the pictures! I'm so jealous--would love to go visit his area of Scotland. Would love to go to the British Isles PERIOD! Thank you so much for sharing part of your lovely trip!

Nicole North said...

Carol and Kathryn, thanks!! I hope you get to visit Scotland one day. It's worth it and even better than I'd imagined. The scenery is breathtaking.

Brandy said...

Awesome post... I would love to be able to travel to the places I read about but right now that's not possible, maybe that is why I love books soooo much. They can take me anywhere I want to go!!!

Nicole North said...

Thanks Brandy! That's true about books. I love the ones that transport me to another time and place and make it incredibly real.

librarypat said...

What a wonderful place. Just the type of thing I look for on our travels. Now all I need to do is get to Scotland.

Nicole North said...

Librarypat, yes, I encourage you to visit Skye if you have the opportunity. It's an amazing and atmospheric place!

Generic Viagra said...

Wow it is indeed a magical place, really amazing pictures, thanks for the post, it is nice to see even in pictures, cultures and landscapes from other countries.