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Glenleraig and Longhouse

All over Assynt are the remains of the settlements deserted as a result of the Clearances which took place between 1812 and 1821. A typical Longhouse in the abandoned settlement of Glenleraig was selected for excavation by Historic Assynt in 2011. As expected the building lay on a gentle slope with the family part of the house at the upper end marked by a packed earth floor and a central hearth. The lower end was used for animals and had a drain running through it and under the end wall. The only entrance was at the byre end and this would have served to keep cold winds away from the domestic areas. As well as the main house there was also an enclosure, probably a vegetable patch (Kale Yard) and a couple of other buildings which may have been a barn and a stable. Thus far everything was as expected, but less expected was a sophisticated double flue leading to the central hearth, a system which would have allowed the air flow to be regulated and perhaps suggesting that the hearth could have been used for more than just heating and cooking. More surprising still were the remains of wine bottles and good quality Staffordshire Cream-ware from the mid eighteenth century suggesting that whoever lived here at that time had more disposable income than might have been expected.
It is possible to explore a small pre-clearance settlement by taking one of the footpaths on the Little Assynt Estate owned by the Culag Community Woodland Trust. The ruined houses there have many features similar to the one excavated at Glenleraig.

Glenleraig longhouse hearth and flues during excavation
Glenleraig and Longhouse
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