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TITLE
An example of a 'black house' in the rural Highlands
EXTERNAL ID
GB1796_1999_116_559_XI
PLACENAME
unidentified
PERIOD
1880s
SOURCE
Highland Photographic Archive (IMAG)
ASSET ID
11405
KEYWORDS
black houses
dwellings
thatched houses
An example of a 'black house' in the rural Highlands

An example of a 'black house' in the rural Highlands, during the 1880s.

The origin of the term 'black house' is confused, having derived from two phonetically similar gaelic words, 'dubh' (black) and 'tugadh' (thatched). 'Black houses' were simple dwellings, built to protect the inhabitants from a rigorous climate. In good weather, it was normal for the residents to live outdoors. These one-storey, thatched houses were to be found anywhere between the Hebrides and Perthshire, and local variations could be found in their design, depending on the type of building materials available. The thatch was made from grass, heather, barley straw or rushes, depending on availability. The fire was set in the middle of the room, to provide maximum heat to all the household.

Although 'black houses' were functional in nature, highlanders attached a high value to friendship and social gatherings would quite often take place around the glow of the peat fire. Doors were never locked, as they believed they had a moral obligation to welcome strangers. The key of a door was associated with inhospitality and meanness


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An example of a 'black house' in the rural Highlands

1880s

black houses; dwellings; thatched houses

Highland Photographic Archive (IMAG)

Joseph Cook Collection

An example of a 'black house' in the rural Highlands, during the 1880s.<br /> <br /> The origin of the term 'black house' is confused, having derived from two phonetically similar gaelic words, 'dubh' (black) and 'tugadh' (thatched). 'Black houses' were simple dwellings, built to protect the inhabitants from a rigorous climate. In good weather, it was normal for the residents to live outdoors. These one-storey, thatched houses were to be found anywhere between the Hebrides and Perthshire, and local variations could be found in their design, depending on the type of building materials available. The thatch was made from grass, heather, barley straw or rushes, depending on availability. The fire was set in the middle of the room, to provide maximum heat to all the household. <br /> <br /> Although 'black houses' were functional in nature, highlanders attached a high value to friendship and social gatherings would quite often take place around the glow of the peat fire. Doors were never locked, as they believed they had a moral obligation to welcome strangers. The key of a door was associated with inhospitality and meanness <br /> <br /> <br /> This image can be purchased.<br /> For further information about purchasing and prices please email the<br /> <a href="mailto: photographic.archive@highlifehighland.com">Highland Photographic Archive</a> quoting the External ID.<br />