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Byre And Hen House, Stable, South Hamar, Westray

A Category B Listed Building in North Isles, Orkney Islands

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Latitude: 59.2783 / 59°16'41"N

Longitude: -2.9676 / 2°58'3"W

OS Eastings: 344955

OS Northings: 1043929

OS Grid: HY449439

Mapcode National: GBR M416.M7S

Mapcode Global: XH8KN.N1DY

Plus Code: 9CFV72HJ+8W

Entry Name: Byre And Hen House, Stable, South Hamar, Westray

Listing Name: South Hamar

Listing Date: 30 March 2001

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 395436

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB48012

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Westray

County: Orkney Islands

Electoral Ward: North Isles

Parish: Westray

Traditional County: Orkney

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Early-mid 19th century. Farmstead comprising single storey row of 2 dwellings, threshing barn with circular corn-drying kiln and additional farm buildings; smaller parallel byre and barn range separated by a narrow, paved closs (open passage) and remains of a smithy. Exposed coursed rubble flagstone.

S (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: central 3-bay house; central door; flanking windows. Smaller second 3-bay house to E; central door; flanking windows; window to right blocked by lean-to porch. Barn attached to W of house; off-centre door; stone pier to right of door. Kiln attached to NW of barn; henhouse and stable/byre to S of barn obscure kiln. Access to henhouse to left of barn door. Plain gable to stable. Set back lean-to outhouse to left of stable, access in S wall. Byre parallel to house; plain elevation. Pig house addition extends S from byre to left; 2 openings in wall; entrance door in left return. Second lean-to pig house extends from byre W gable; access in S wall. Remains of lean-to smithy to S of E house, openings in E and W gables.

E ELEVATION: window to right in E house gable. Access to stable in E elevation, to left; upper boarded stable door remains.

N ELEVATION: central window in central house; barn set back to right of central house; winnowing door to barn.

W ELEVATION: circular kiln attached to barn; off-set to left.

Underseamed flagstone roofs survive on 1st house, threshing barn and pig houses; rooflights in central house roof flags to rear and front. Rough stone skews form crude crowsteps to E gable. Overseamed flagstone roof with triangular stones to stable/byre. Flagstones to kiln roof remain. Flagstone lean-to roof to smithy partly remains. Corniced gable stacks to central house; E corniced gable stack to E house.

INTERIOR: central house: flagged floor; plastered walls; box bed to W room; couple roof construction. E house; W fireplace with chimney breast abuts into room; single stone slab lintel; timber fireplace surround and mantelshelf remain. Single stone slab lintel to E fireplace; fire crane with hooks and metal grate remain. Recess to right of fireplace. Kiln door raised approximately one metre above barn floor level; rectangular flue to bottom right, internal kiln ledge intact. Couple roof structure to threshing barn.

Statement of Interest

South Hamar is a good example of a typical Orcadian farmstead and one which has received little modern alteration. Although at present (2000) it is redundant and partially derelict the major components of the farm survive. The internal arrangement of the central house stems from the 1860's; 2 box beds formed timber partitions dividing up the house into 3 sections including the but and ben ends; only 1 box bed remains now. The 1841 Census records South Hamar as inhabited; the E house was probably added in the later 19th century and was abandoned in 1960 whilst the central house remained inhabited until 1990. The flagstone roof of the E house and parallel barn and byre have gone and the underseamed roof of the threshing barn is in poor condition. The underseamed flagstone roof of the central house is intact and was probably rebuilt circa 1907. The overseamed roof with triangular stones of the stable/byre at the W end of the range is a roofing style particular to Westray. The kiln is in good condition and may have had a turf cap sitting above the flags. It is an important survival from early Orkney farming practices. As Paul Newman mentions in Vernacular 18; 'the round kiln attached to the barn is such an important element in the rural landscape of these islands'. Kilns were used to dry corn before grinding and for drying malt for making ale. About a metre from the ground a large beam (killace) would sit upon the kiln ledge, with smaller slatted timbers resting upon it. Straw covered the timbers and the grain was laid upon this. A peat fire would be lit in the fire-hole and the kiln entrance would be covered to draw the heat from the vent into the kiln. If the flames should rise up into the kiln, the killace could be pulled across so that the drying floor would immediately collapse and smother the fire. Hamar is a Norse word for a projecting outcrop of rock on a nearby hill.

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