In a case study of the rethatching of a Hebridean blackhouse in Context 158, the IHBC Context’s ‘Highlands and islands’ issue, Matthew Withey invites readers to consider how investing in traditional materials helps support endangered craft skills, and develop insights into construction in a challenging climate.
image: Context 158, p29
The Highland Folk Museum in Badenoch contains a replica blackhouse, which is one of the museum’s most popular exhibits. The museum provides a home for Isabel Grant’s unique collection of Highland material culture, formally recognised by Museums Galleries Scotland and the Scottish Government as being of national significance. Although the blackhouse was a reconstruction, when the museum moved from the village of Kingussie to Newtonmore in 2014, the reconstructed blackhouse moved too!
Following on from a need to repair the structure after the move, this property provides an interesting case study into the use of traditional skills; Historic Environment Scotland’s Engine Shed undertook a joint-working model with the museum to enable the rethatching using traditional techniques and materials.
Educational outreach and research placements took place within the context of the work, media attention was gained from BBC Alba, and The Highland Folk Museum has been able to supply the Engine Shed with much valuable data over the last year on the performance of the thatch in response to the heavy snows of the ‘Beast from the East’ in early 2018, and the unseasonably hot weather that followed later that year. A valuable insight into the multi-angled benefits of investing in the repair of traditionally constructed properties.
View the article in Context 158
View more information on the Highland Folk Museum
Find out more about the Engine Shed
IHBC NewsBlogs on thatching