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TITLE
Black Isle Heritage Memories - Alasdair Cameron (7 of 32)
EXTERNAL ID
ARCH_ALASDAIR_CAMERON_01_07
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
ROSS
DATE OF RECORDING
2010
PERIOD
2010s
CREATOR
Alasdair Cameron
SOURCE
ARCH (Archaeology for Communities in the Highlands)
ASSET ID
41072
KEYWORDS
audios
farmers
farming
villages
dwellings
houses
farms
agriculture
built environment
mills

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In this audio extract, Black Isle farmer Alasdair Cameron talks about waterwheels on the Black Isle.

The audio recording was carried out as part of the Black Isle Heritage Memories Project, undertaken in 2009/2010 by ARCH (Archaeology for Communities in the Highlands). To find out more about the project, follow the link towards the foot of the page.

Transcription: (Interviewer: Cait McCullagh)

AC: The Agricultural Executive Committee had a pool of machinery which was based in Dingwall and that they had mostly American Ford tractors and all the associated equipment, and a team that would go to farms and plough them up, plough up as much as possible, grow potatoes and grain, anything to feed the country. That the equipment was available to hire to any farmer that wished to hire it as well. They would also have things like binders, full title 'reaper binders,' that cut the grain and produced sheaves which are then formed into stooks, and then stacks, and would eventually be thrashed probably by the local thrashing mill with the outfit or occasionally some of the farms noted here have a thrashing mill in the building. Some of these I suspect from the references to the buildings had water power for the thrashing mills so there was quite a lot of waterwheels on the Black Isle.

CM: What, does it mention that the, that the waterwheels, does it mention that in the catalogue or are you inferring that from?

AC: No I've, some of that I've gained from looking at the actual sites ...

CM: Mmm-hmm.

AC: ... and in some cases you can see the signs, or even on the map in some cases, there's a mill dam and also if you look in the side of the building you'll find that somewhere there may be evidence of a waterwheel, circular scars on the wall where it's been rubbing, a deep pit, a water supply, ashlar stone building, because you needed the best possible stone right next to your waterwheel, so that often features. And in some cases there was a concrete mill lade which guided the water at the correct level onto the waterwheel and I find it quite amusing looking at some of the farms that still have the concrete mill lade, which was their source of power in its day, and in three locations I'm aware of, they've got their fuel tanks on top of it because it's at a convenient height to give gravity feed to top up their tractors. So the same lump of concrete is still providing the power source, but in a slightly different direction.

CM: And just for those who may not be familiar with the workings of a mill, the lade would be directing water from the nearest natural water source, so from the burn?

AC: Yes, there would probably be a dam involved somewhere and a sluice that you opened and possibly to divert the water onto the waterwheel when you required the power. The power could be used for various farm uses; it could be driving a turnip cutter or a roller that, for crushing grain, commonly called a 'bruiser', and that in some cases even driving a milk churn has been known that waterwheel has been used for that. Even to provide a small amount of electric power for lighting purposes, within a steading, did happen in a few locations.

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Black Isle Heritage Memories - Alasdair Cameron (7 of 32)

ROSS

2010s

audios; farmers; farming; villages; dwellings; houses; farms; agriculture; built environment; mills

ARCH (Archaeology for Communities in the Highlands)

ARCH: Black Isle Heritage Memories

In this audio extract, Black Isle farmer Alasdair Cameron talks about waterwheels on the Black Isle.<br /> <br /> The audio recording was carried out as part of the Black Isle Heritage Memories Project, undertaken in 2009/2010 by ARCH (Archaeology for Communities in the Highlands). To find out more about the project, follow the link towards the foot of the page.<br /> <br /> Transcription: (Interviewer: Cait McCullagh)<br /> <br /> AC: The Agricultural Executive Committee had a pool of machinery which was based in Dingwall and that they had mostly American Ford tractors and all the associated equipment, and a team that would go to farms and plough them up, plough up as much as possible, grow potatoes and grain, anything to feed the country. That the equipment was available to hire to any farmer that wished to hire it as well. They would also have things like binders, full title 'reaper binders,' that cut the grain and produced sheaves which are then formed into stooks, and then stacks, and would eventually be thrashed probably by the local thrashing mill with the outfit or occasionally some of the farms noted here have a thrashing mill in the building. Some of these I suspect from the references to the buildings had water power for the thrashing mills so there was quite a lot of waterwheels on the Black Isle.<br /> <br /> CM: What, does it mention that the, that the waterwheels, does it mention that in the catalogue or are you inferring that from?<br /> <br /> AC: No I've, some of that I've gained from looking at the actual sites ...<br /> <br /> CM: Mmm-hmm.<br /> <br /> AC: ... and in some cases you can see the signs, or even on the map in some cases, there's a mill dam and also if you look in the side of the building you'll find that somewhere there may be evidence of a waterwheel, circular scars on the wall where it's been rubbing, a deep pit, a water supply, ashlar stone building, because you needed the best possible stone right next to your waterwheel, so that often features. And in some cases there was a concrete mill lade which guided the water at the correct level onto the waterwheel and I find it quite amusing looking at some of the farms that still have the concrete mill lade, which was their source of power in its day, and in three locations I'm aware of, they've got their fuel tanks on top of it because it's at a convenient height to give gravity feed to top up their tractors. So the same lump of concrete is still providing the power source, but in a slightly different direction.<br /> <br /> CM: And just for those who may not be familiar with the workings of a mill, the lade would be directing water from the nearest natural water source, so from the burn?<br /> <br /> AC: Yes, there would probably be a dam involved somewhere and a sluice that you opened and possibly to divert the water onto the waterwheel when you required the power. The power could be used for various farm uses; it could be driving a turnip cutter or a roller that, for crushing grain, commonly called a 'bruiser', and that in some cases even driving a milk churn has been known that waterwheel has been used for that. Even to provide a small amount of electric power for lighting purposes, within a steading, did happen in a few locations.