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TITLE
Grinding Corn in Skye
EXTERNAL ID
PC_PRISCUS_WCS6370
DISTRICT
Skye
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
INVERNESS
PERIOD
1890s
CREATOR
George Washington Wilson
SOURCE
Mark Butterworth - Priscus
ASSET ID
29604
KEYWORDS
customs
Skye
laws
grain
millers
tolls
oats
clach-cruaich
mills
sheepskins
sieves
Grinding Corn in Skye

This photograph was taken by Scottish photographer George Washington Wilson (1823-93) and was used to illustrate talks he gave on Highland history. The following description is taken from Washington Wilson's own lecture notes.

This is a very old custom still existing in Skye: for the Islesman not only loves the place of his nativity, but clings to every custom that has been handed down by his forefathers. Although an old law so far back as the thirteenth century provided "That no man shall presume to grind his own grain," excepting in very peculiar circumstances, and more recently the laird could oblige his tenants to make use of the more expeditious methods of grinding, and empowered his miller "to search out and break any querns he can find," as machines that defraud him of the toll. The quantity of oats raised by a crofter in a good season, is not large, and not infrequently as the result of an unfavourable season, or the ravages of deer, it is too insignificant to take it to the mill. In such cases the "clach-cuaich" is brought into requisition. The grain is first thoroughly dried in a pot over a peat fire; then the mill being adjusted, the grain is dropped in at the opening in the middle of the upper stone with one hand, while the other revolves the upper stone by means of a very rude lever adjustment. The nether stone being slightly convex, and the lower surface of the upper stone being concave, the meal falls out all round on the cloth spread out to receive it. In order to remove the outer husk it is sifted through a sieve, made by stretching a sheepskin on a frame, and then perforating it all over with a red hot iron. The old man in the picture holds a sieve of this description.

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Grinding Corn in Skye

INVERNESS

1890s

customs; Skye; laws; grain; millers; tolls; oats; clach-cruaich; mills; sheepskins; sieves

Mark Butterworth - Priscus

Imaging the Past

This photograph was taken by Scottish photographer George Washington Wilson (1823-93) and was used to illustrate talks he gave on Highland history. The following description is taken from Washington Wilson's own lecture notes.<br /> <br /> This is a very old custom still existing in Skye: for the Islesman not only loves the place of his nativity, but clings to every custom that has been handed down by his forefathers. Although an old law so far back as the thirteenth century provided "That no man shall presume to grind his own grain," excepting in very peculiar circumstances, and more recently the laird could oblige his tenants to make use of the more expeditious methods of grinding, and empowered his miller "to search out and break any querns he can find," as machines that defraud him of the toll. The quantity of oats raised by a crofter in a good season, is not large, and not infrequently as the result of an unfavourable season, or the ravages of deer, it is too insignificant to take it to the mill. In such cases the "clach-cuaich" is brought into requisition. The grain is first thoroughly dried in a pot over a peat fire; then the mill being adjusted, the grain is dropped in at the opening in the middle of the upper stone with one hand, while the other revolves the upper stone by means of a very rude lever adjustment. The nether stone being slightly convex, and the lower surface of the upper stone being concave, the meal falls out all round on the cloth spread out to receive it. In order to remove the outer husk it is sifted through a sieve, made by stretching a sheepskin on a frame, and then perforating it all over with a red hot iron. The old man in the picture holds a sieve of this description.