Thursday, 11 June 2009

Visit to Uig - follow-up

Found a picture on the website of the Uig Historical Society of the shieling at Gearraidh Thodail, which I walked past on Tuesday. It shows the shieling in use around 1930. Gearraidh Thodail was the shieling for the hamlet of Kneep, about 8 miles to the north.


  1. Harryd(Canada)12 June 2009 at 03:30

    I'm almost afraid to ask but will, what is a shieling?
    Was it some type of milkshed ?please don't laugh, if wrong :)

  2. Shielings!

  3. I understand that the villagers went to the shieling during the summer, but I hadn't realised that they shared the shieling - I thought each family had its own. It must have been a bit crowded? And I wonder how they coped with the midges out on the moors.

  4. Harryd, a shieling (airigh, in Gaelic) is a summer pasture, and gearraidh is a cluster of huts at the airigh. The cattle roamed about on the moor (so not a pasture in the sense of an enclosed green field) and the girls lived in the stone huts for a couple of months. The main thing was to get the cattle away from the villages while the crops were growing. The girls milked and made butter and cheese, and the boys would usually come out to take the produce in. It was a place for courting as well.

    Shielings did belong to either a family or a small village or a part of a village - with large interwoven families and long-term co-operation, there was a bit of collaboration going on. A few girls stayed in each and there was usually another shieling not far away. By the 1930s the practice was dying out anyway so not every family used them. The last serious shieling year in Uig was 1946.

    Don't know about the midges. The sites are such that they took advantage of the view, fresh water, sunlight and breezes, so maybe they weren't so bad. Also in general the sense is that they are worse now than in previous decades.

  5. Harryd(Canada)12 June 2009 at 18:14

    Very interesting Sarah thanks. I was going to say a milking byre, I'll read more. I keep forgetting the midgies problem in the summer, the beauty of the pics don't show that. We have black flies here in the country up North from us and you have to wear a net over your head for protection, also from horseflies. Where I live, no blackflies only mosquitos which are a nuisance