Please Sign In | Register
Google pluspinterestShare on Stumble UponShare on RedditFacebookShare on Tumblr
TITLE
Changing land use in Skye
EXTERNAL ID
GB1796_SINCLAIR_ANDREWCURRIE_16
DISTRICT
Skye
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
INVERNESS: Strath
PERIOD
1980s; 1990s
CREATOR
Andrew Currie
SOURCE
Inverness Museum and Art Gallery
ASSET ID
1827
KEYWORDS
agriculture
cairns
runrig
lazybed
lazybeds
audio

Get Adobe Flash player

In this audio extract, Skye naturalist, Andrew Currie, talks to Bill Sinclair about the historical significance of the area around Kilchrist, southwest of Broadford. He also notes the changes in land use throughout the centuries, making particular reference to the 'lazy-bed' cultivation method.

We're standing on a rocky knoll and we're looking away down the valley here towards Broadford and I wanted to say something first of all about the history. For example, right in front of us there is an old churchyard, a Pre-Reformation churchyard of Kilchrist. Many of the older people who once lived in this area are buried in that churchyard. There's ancient history there. Further over towards Corry is the cottage, or the ruins of the building, in which Boswell and Johnson stayed once when they did the famous tour of the Western Isles. Yon grassy knoll away in the distance there, where the road has a sharp angle, that's an old burial cairn. And all of these things remind us that people have been living and working in this area down through the centuries.

We often think of natural history as being just what we can see round about us today but in fact the natural history we look at reflects the history of man's habitation of the area over many, many centuries. You see, this is basically farming country; it's been farmed in different ways down through the decades, probably through the centuries. We're looking over an expanse of croft land here and it's excellent land because it's on limestone; the limestone gives a natural enrichment to the grassland. And that's why you get these lovely rich green pastures. You can see the history of land use in the old building ruins; the old dykes, the turf dykes, that you see curving round the hillside. You can actually see lazy-beds which tell you something about the history of land use - last century rather than this century.

Interviewer: You can see quite well the - where perhaps the early strip cultivation was over to - over there in front of us.

That's right. It all shows up perfectly well and it can be seen by the ordinary passing visitor. Wherever you see these parallel ridges, little, little high and low areas, just -

Interviewer: Yes.

- closely aligned and parallel to each other. These are probably what we call lazy-beds which used to be cultivated in the past.

Interviewer: There's one thing that I'm not quite clear on, Andrew, is the limestone area which we're standing on here just now, and then you could perhaps see up on the hill where a sheiling might have been -

Yes.

Interviewer: - and they're both green.

The sheiling site is the old area where the earlier farmers and crofters used to take the cattle during the summer period -

Interviewer: Quite.

- and because they lived and concentrated the beasts' grazing in a small area, you had a build up of nutrients, you know, from the dung that was dropped by the beasts and, and the treading.

Interviewer: But it's not from limestone as, as we are from here?

It's not from limestone as we're seeing here.

Interviewer: Yes.

But in other parts of Scotland you'll see these old sheiling sites

For guidance on the use of images and other content, please see the Terms and Conditions page.
High Life Highland is a company limited by guarantee registered in Scotland No. SC407011 and is a registered Scottish charity No. SC042593
Powered by Capture

Changing land use in Skye

INVERNESS: Strath

1980s; 1990s

agriculture; cairns; runrig; lazybed; lazybeds; audio

Inverness Museum and Art Gallery

Bill Sinclair Audio: Andrew Currie, Skye Naturalist

In this audio extract, Skye naturalist, Andrew Currie, talks to Bill Sinclair about the historical significance of the area around Kilchrist, southwest of Broadford. He also notes the changes in land use throughout the centuries, making particular reference to the 'lazy-bed' cultivation method.<br /> <br /> We're standing on a rocky knoll and we're looking away down the valley here towards Broadford and I wanted to say something first of all about the history. For example, right in front of us there is an old churchyard, a Pre-Reformation churchyard of Kilchrist. Many of the older people who once lived in this area are buried in that churchyard. There's ancient history there. Further over towards Corry is the cottage, or the ruins of the building, in which Boswell and Johnson stayed once when they did the famous tour of the Western Isles. Yon grassy knoll away in the distance there, where the road has a sharp angle, that's an old burial cairn. And all of these things remind us that people have been living and working in this area down through the centuries. <br /> <br /> We often think of natural history as being just what we can see round about us today but in fact the natural history we look at reflects the history of man's habitation of the area over many, many centuries. You see, this is basically farming country; it's been farmed in different ways down through the decades, probably through the centuries. We're looking over an expanse of croft land here and it's excellent land because it's on limestone; the limestone gives a natural enrichment to the grassland. And that's why you get these lovely rich green pastures. You can see the history of land use in the old building ruins; the old dykes, the turf dykes, that you see curving round the hillside. You can actually see lazy-beds which tell you something about the history of land use - last century rather than this century. <br /> <br /> Interviewer: You can see quite well the - where perhaps the early strip cultivation was over to - over there in front of us.<br /> <br /> That's right. It all shows up perfectly well and it can be seen by the ordinary passing visitor. Wherever you see these parallel ridges, little, little high and low areas, just -<br /> <br /> Interviewer: Yes.<br /> <br /> - closely aligned and parallel to each other. These are probably what we call lazy-beds which used to be cultivated in the past.<br /> <br /> Interviewer: There's one thing that I'm not quite clear on, Andrew, is the limestone area which we're standing on here just now, and then you could perhaps see up on the hill where a sheiling might have been - <br /> <br /> Yes.<br /> <br /> Interviewer: - and they're both green.<br /> <br /> The sheiling site is the old area where the earlier farmers and crofters used to take the cattle during the summer period -<br /> <br /> Interviewer: Quite.<br /> <br /> - and because they lived and concentrated the beasts' grazing in a small area, you had a build up of nutrients, you know, from the dung that was dropped by the beasts and, and the treading.<br /> <br /> Interviewer: But it's not from limestone as, as we are from here?<br /> <br /> It's not from limestone as we're seeing here. <br /> <br /> Interviewer: Yes.<br /> <br /> But in other parts of Scotland you'll see these old sheiling sites