Tuesday, 10 December 2019

How Did They Cope?

In the 1840's, the resident population of Skye was around 23,000 - that's more than double what it is today. Many of those 23,000 people fed themselves by fishing and working their own small patches of land. They lived in small, stone-built cottages, originally with reed-thatched roofs, heated by burning peat which they dug themselves from the moors. There were few horse-drawn vehicles, few roads. No electricity.

At this time of year, we are in the depths of darkest winter - less than a couple of weeks from the shortest day, when we only see full daylight for one quarter of every 24 hours. The wind has roared round the Barn, and rain has battered against the windows, since the middle of last night, and it is still the same, now, at mid-day.

As I reluctantly trudged through the storm to walk an equally reluctant Cupar at first light this morning, I glanced over the sodden moorland and past the ruins of one of those old stone-built cottages - they can be found everywhere on Skye.

My mind turned to how on earth the people survived in that cottage before it became a ruin. The roof probably always leaked. Draughts would have blown-in everywhere. Outside, the surroundings would have been muddy. How did they cope with just candles and oil lamps for lighting? How did they dry their wet clothes and boots with just one smokey fire for all their heating and cooking? What did they even DO during the long hours of darkness?

And we have the temerity today to moan about what's on TV, prices in shops, our health service, potholes in our roads.... and so on and so on...

 We seldom think on how lucky we are...

Ruin in Lorgill - this one was occupied until the 1960s.

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