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Hillhouse, Skelwick, Westray

A Category C Listed Building in North Isles, Orkney Islands

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Latitude: 59.2836 / 59°17'0"N

Longitude: -2.9 / 2°53'59"W

OS Eastings: 348819

OS Northings: 1044466

OS Grid: HY488444

Mapcode National: GBR M466.28M

Mapcode Global: XH8KH.JXWF

Plus Code: 9CFV74M2+C2

Entry Name: Hillhouse, Skelwick, Westray

Listing Name: Skelwick, Hillhouse

Listing Date: 30 March 2001

Category: C

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 395432

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB48011

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Westray

County: Orkney Islands

Electoral Ward: North Isles

Parish: Westray

Traditional County: Orkney

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Mid-later 19th century. Single storey, linear range; 3-bay cottage; threshing barn with early-earlier 20th century wind-engine piers; byres. Flagstone rubble walls; some harling remains to cottage.

S (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: L-plan byre attached to rear of cottage to W; 2 central doors; door to right directly behind cottage. Later lean-to shed to far W; double doors. Cottage to right; window to left; 20th century concrete porch, door in right return. 2 windows to right. Stone base for metal sheet water tank between windows. Threshing barn to E; door to left; wind-engine piers advanced to right of door; attached to barn wall. Middle flagstone bridging piece between piers, shaft support and lower bevel gears remain. Shed/byre to far E; door to left.

E ELEVATION: central window to byre/shed.

N ELEVATION: partially seen, 2000. Window to rear of threshing barn; remains of lean-to to right. Cottage to W with lean-to to right. Plain elevation to W byre.

W ELEVATION: window to left in cottage; plain gable wall to byre and lean-to shed.

Varied fenestration to cottage including 4-pane timber sash and case window. Replacement timber boarded doors throughout. Pitched roofs; crude crowsteps to W byre W gable. Underseamed flagstone roof with aisins to all except corrugated iron sheeting to E byre/shed. Glazing panes set within large roof flags to all roofs. 2 coped gable end stacks to cottage and 1 central ridge stack. 1 circular clay can remaining.

INTERIORS: not seen, 2000.

Statement of Interest

Hillhouse is a well preserved example of a traditional Orkney croft; typical 3-bay, single storey cottage with flanking barn and byres. Hillhouse remains in good condition and is notable for the retention of the piers which supported the machinery for the wind-powered threshing machine. It is thought that wind-powered threshing machines were developed locally from the mid 19th century onwards; they are to be found in areas of high wind and limited opportunities for water power; and such was their suitability that several continued in use until the 1960's. Hillhouse is one of approximately 4 sites on Westray to retain the wind-engine piers. The piers stand at about 3 metres high and are complete. Although some features of the wind-engine remain, namely the flagstone bridging piece, shaft support stone which held the central shaft in situ, and the lower bevel gears, the majority of the machinery has gone including the flagstones which capped the piers and supported the shaft; central shaft; sail arms and upper gears. According to the SVBWG article, the owner reported that the wind engine was installed in 1926, and was last used in 1945. The roof of the cottage is in better condition than the farm buildings; suggesting mid 20th century repair.

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