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TITLE
'A Croft in the Hills' (3)
EXTERNAL ID
AB_LL_KATHARINE_STEWART_03
PLACENAME
Abriachan
DISTRICT
Inverness
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
INVERNESS: Inverness and Bona
DATE OF RECORDING
2008
PERIOD
2000s
CREATOR
Katharine Stewart
SOURCE
Am Baile
ASSET ID
1394
KEYWORDS
authobiographies
crofting
crofters
crofter
crofts
audio
literary landscapes

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This audio extract is from Katharine Stewart's autobiographical book, 'A Croft in the Hills', first published in 1971. It is read here by the author.

'We saw the good lady of the house. She pointed out the boundaries and we talked of the various possibilities of obtaining a piped water supply because there was only a well and it was a good hundred and fifty yards away, and below the level of the house.

The only thing that did really worry us a little was the lack of shelter. The woodland, which had formerly broken the force of the wind from all the southerly points of the compass, had been felled during and after the war. The view from the kitchen window at the back was superb, but there seemed to be little but the heady air between us and Ben Wyvis which lay, like a great dozing hound, away to the north.

But it was May-time and one of May's most glorious efforts in the way of a day - warm and sweet-scented and domed with milky blue. It is difficult on such a day really to visualise the storm and stress of winter.

We walked to the limit of the little property and stood looking down the strath. Several small, white croft houses stood on either side of the burn flowing down its centre. The fields adjoining them looked tidy and well-cultivated. Plumes of smoke rose from squat chimneys. Here and there were the ruins of former houses, where one holding had been incorporated into another. There was, on the whole, a feeling of quiet snugness about the prospect. It seemed incredible that we were standing nearly a thousand feet above sea-level.

Probably an upland area such as this would never have been settled at all had it not been for the clearances of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. One certainly shudders to think of the labour that must have gone into the wresting of the small fields from the bog and heather.

The crofters' tenacity and innate gift for husbandry had resulted in their being able to maintain their families in health in these surroundings. Could we, who had so little experience, reasonably hope to do the same? We had health and strength and a tremendous appetite for this kind of life; we each had close links with the soil.'

Katharine Stewart was born in 1914 and becamed one of the Highlands' most prolific writers. During the Second World War she worked for the Admiralty in London after which she settled in Abriachan, near Inverness, where she ran a croft and post office and wrote documentaries for the BBC. She was instrumental in setting up a small local museum in Abriachan and in 2005 she received the Saltire Society Highland Branch Award for her outstanding contribution to the understanding of Highland Culture.

Katharine Stewart's first book, 'A Croft in the Hills', was published in 1960 and again in 1971. What had originally been seen as a couthy tale of Highland life was now seen as an important evocation of a way of life which was disappearing fast. 'A Garden in the Hills' followed in 1995, with 'A School in the Hills' in 1996 and 'The Post in the Hills' in 1997. She branched out into less autobiographical books with 'Abriachan: the story of an upland community', for the Abriachan Forest Trust (2000), and 'The story of Loch Ness' (2005). Her latest book, 'Women of the Highlands' (2006), is an interesting excursion through the lives of notable Highland women through the ages. It is dedicated 'To women everywhere, those custodians of life'. "Her final volume, 'Cattle on a Thousand Hills' was published in 2010."

Katharine Stewart died on 27 March 2013, aged 98.

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'A Croft in the Hills' (3)

INVERNESS: Inverness and Bona

2000s

authobiographies; crofting; crofters; crofter; crofts; audio; literary landscapes

Am Baile

Literary Landscapes: Katharine Stewart

This audio extract is from Katharine Stewart's autobiographical book, 'A Croft in the Hills', first published in 1971. It is read here by the author.<br /> <br /> 'We saw the good lady of the house. She pointed out the boundaries and we talked of the various possibilities of obtaining a piped water supply because there was only a well and it was a good hundred and fifty yards away, and below the level of the house. <br /> <br /> The only thing that did really worry us a little was the lack of shelter. The woodland, which had formerly broken the force of the wind from all the southerly points of the compass, had been felled during and after the war. The view from the kitchen window at the back was superb, but there seemed to be little but the heady air between us and Ben Wyvis which lay, like a great dozing hound, away to the north.<br /> <br /> But it was May-time and one of May's most glorious efforts in the way of a day - warm and sweet-scented and domed with milky blue. It is difficult on such a day really to visualise the storm and stress of winter.<br /> <br /> We walked to the limit of the little property and stood looking down the strath. Several small, white croft houses stood on either side of the burn flowing down its centre. The fields adjoining them looked tidy and well-cultivated. Plumes of smoke rose from squat chimneys. Here and there were the ruins of former houses, where one holding had been incorporated into another. There was, on the whole, a feeling of quiet snugness about the prospect. It seemed incredible that we were standing nearly a thousand feet above sea-level.<br /> <br /> Probably an upland area such as this would never have been settled at all had it not been for the clearances of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. One certainly shudders to think of the labour that must have gone into the wresting of the small fields from the bog and heather. <br /> <br /> The crofters' tenacity and innate gift for husbandry had resulted in their being able to maintain their families in health in these surroundings. Could we, who had so little experience, reasonably hope to do the same? We had health and strength and a tremendous appetite for this kind of life; we each had close links with the soil.'<br /> <br /> Katharine Stewart was born in 1914 and becamed one of the Highlands' most prolific writers. During the Second World War she worked for the Admiralty in London after which she settled in Abriachan, near Inverness, where she ran a croft and post office and wrote documentaries for the BBC. She was instrumental in setting up a small local museum in Abriachan and in 2005 she received the Saltire Society Highland Branch Award for her outstanding contribution to the understanding of Highland Culture. <br /> <br /> Katharine Stewart's first book, 'A Croft in the Hills', was published in 1960 and again in 1971. What had originally been seen as a couthy tale of Highland life was now seen as an important evocation of a way of life which was disappearing fast. 'A Garden in the Hills' followed in 1995, with 'A School in the Hills' in 1996 and 'The Post in the Hills' in 1997. She branched out into less autobiographical books with 'Abriachan: the story of an upland community', for the Abriachan Forest Trust (2000), and 'The story of Loch Ness' (2005). Her latest book, 'Women of the Highlands' (2006), is an interesting excursion through the lives of notable Highland women through the ages. It is dedicated 'To women everywhere, those custodians of life'. "Her final volume, 'Cattle on a Thousand Hills' was published in 2010." <br /> <br /> Katharine Stewart died on 27 March 2013, aged 98.