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Smithy, South Ronaldsay

A Category B Listed Building in East Mainland, South Ronaldsay and Burray, Orkney Islands

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Coordinates

Latitude: 58.7529 / 58°45'10"N

Longitude: -2.9598 / 2°57'35"W

OS Eastings: 344561

OS Northings: 985430

OS Grid: ND445854

Mapcode National: GBR M51L.JW8

Mapcode Global: WH7D9.H8S8

Plus Code: 9CCVQ23R+53

Entry Name: Smithy, South Ronaldsay

Listing Name: South Parish, South Ronaldsay, Smithy, House and Ancillary Structures

Listing Date: 6 November 1998

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 392811

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB45800

Building Class: Cultural

Location: South Ronaldsay

County: Orkney Islands

Electoral Ward: East Mainland, South Ronaldsay and Burray

Parish: South Ronaldsay

Traditional County: Orkney

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Description

1862. Single storey, 3-bay symmetrical house with lower, single storey, 2-bay working smithy to left with further single storey, single bay, lean-to store to outer left; various projections from right. Late 19th century/early 20th century single storey, 5-bay barn to NE of house with lean-to; Early 20th century single storey barn with hay loft to E. Harl-pointed random rubble.

PRINCIPAL ELEVATION: HOUSE: central boarded door with letterbox fanlight. Window in each bay flanking. SMITHY: boarded stable door in bay to right; window in bay to left; small window between. STORE: 2-leaf boarded doors set top right.

BARN TO NE: door to left with flanking windows (possible former door to right window). Door to far right. 2-leaf boarded door to lean-to.

BARN TO E: full-length boarded door to central W elevation; 1st floor loft window to right. 1st floor loft window to left in S gable; central gable apex window.

4-pane timber sash and case windows to house; 2, evenly disposed rooflights to principal pitch; 2-pane timber-framed window to Smithy; 6-pane at rear. Traditional graded stone tiled roof to house; massive Caithness stone slabbed roof to Smithy; remaining roof material unseen; corniced, rubble gablehead stacks to house; similar gablehead stack to Smithy; cast-iron rainwater goods. Pitched roof to NE barn; corrugated asbestos. Pitched roof to N barn; graded stone tiles.

INTERIORS: house; 2-up-2-down arrangement with central timber staircase. Downstairs: flag floors; exterior walls plastered on the hard, internal partitions timber framed and boarded; open-beamed ceilings; stone sink and mains-fed cold water tap; 'Columbian' stove (circa 1900) in west room, 1950s open fire-place in east room. Upstairs: boarded ceilings and coombs, exterior walls plastered on the hard, internal partitions timber framed and boarded. Smithy: wide, open, coal-fired furnace to gabled wall with angled stone flag hood/lintel.

Statement of Interest

One of the few remaining working smithies in Orkney, typical in set-up and layout of a Caithness, rather than an Orkney, smithy. There are probably very few remaining in Scotland on this scale. It has been occupied by the Mowatt family for four generations and was built by the present blacksmith's great grandfather, John Mowatt in 1862. It retains its original and traditional roofing material and the coal-fired furnace is still operational. A patent, extendable bed, treadle-driven lathe, which pre-dates the building, has been kept complete, including the original rebated and scribed timber face-plate which was the predecessor to the 3 or 4 jawed steel chuck. Over the combined lathe bed/workbench is a weighted beam and lever arrangement enabling the hand-operated, handmade drill (complete with handmade bits) to be kept upright over work secured in the old paddle-type vice. The wide furnace bed is deliberately made so in order to accommodate two fires (each with its own vertically mounted, handworked, concertina bellows). These fires are at such a distance as to allow the heating of the larger wheel rims which would fit the carts drawn by Clydesdale horses (the typical Orkney cart had smaller wheels and was drawn by smaller draft horses). A circular stone slab lies outside the smithy and is used as part of the wheel-wrighting process.

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