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Latitude: 59.2689 / 59°16'8"N
Longitude: -2.8866 / 2°53'11"W
OS Eastings: 349558
OS Northings: 1042826
OS Grid: HY495428
Mapcode National: GBR M477.8CY
Mapcode Global: XH8KP.Q974
Entry Name: Swartaback
Listing Date: 30 March 2001
Source: Historic Scotland
Source ID: 395441
Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB48013
Building Class: Cultural
County: Orkney Islands
Electoral Ward: North Isles
Traditional County: Orkney
Late 18th/early 19th century with earlier-mid 19th century additions. Traditional single storey croft comprising long rectangular-plan range aligned E/W with small U-plan range/yard to rear (N) of E end. Wind threshing mill tower to barn; gabled porch additions to domestic sections. Coursed rubble. Coped gables to earlier-mid 19th century sections to W.
S (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: original (late 18th/early 19th century) section comprising house and barn to right. House (roofless/ruinous) to left; gabled porch (window to gable end) to outer right; entrance passage immediately adjoining house (entrances to both returns; timber door to that to right); entrance to house blocked; wall largely missing to left; window opening to remaining portion to right. Much enlarged entrance with inserted timber lintel to barn to right; 2-leaf boarded timber door. Open-sided yard set back to outer right; gable end of small byre forms opposite end of U-plan range, set back slightly from barn (approximately 1.5m to E). Later (earlier-mid 19th century; built in 2 separate stages) house and barn adjoin to left. House to outer left; gabled porch with boarded timber door to right of centre; window to left return; flanking windows set back. Barn set back slightly to right; flat-topped rectangular-plan breaking-eaves wind threshing mill tower projects to right; rectangular-plan recess to centre; entrance immediately to right; flanking cheek walls (that to left formed by right pier of threshing tower); large flagstone forms roof just below eaves level; 2-leaf boarded timber door (divided horizontally).
N ELEVATION: earlier-mid 19th century house and barn to right. Later lean-to (with corrugated-iron roof) to most of width of barn to left; blocked window and entrance; left return open; entrance to barn set back to left within. Rear wall of original (late 18th/early 19th century) house adjoins to left. Gable end of late 19th century outbuilding projects at right angles to left; entrance (wall partially fallen away to either side) to right of right return; later lean-to to most of gable end/projecting to right; window to right return; small lean-to dry closet (part of addition) set back to left return. Side wall of 2 small byres (slightly lower roof to that to right) projects immediately to left; muck hole at base to that to left.
E ELEVATION: gable end of byre projects to right; entrance with boarded timber door to left reutrn. Side wall of 2 small byre sections (slightly lower roof to that to left) adjoins set back to left. Gable end of original barn set back to opposite side of yard to outer left.
W ELEVATION: window to left of gable end of earlier-mid 19th century house.
YARD: comprises mainly small byres. E ELEVATION: short section to left; that to right set back; entrance to left. N ELEVATION: entrance to right. W ELEVATION: entrance with boarded timber door to right; blocked entrance to left.
Windows largely boarded up/missing. Underseamed flagstone roofs. Triangular overseamed flagstone roof to N pitch of barn. Gablehead stacks with band courses to either side (E and W) of earlier-mid 19th century house to W; cans largely missing.
Stone internal partition wall to remains of original house. Stone slab stall divisions to some of byre buildings. Other sections not inspected (2000).
A good example of a traditional Orcadian croft, largely unaltered since the latter part of the 19th century and retaining an intact wind threshing mill tower (the machinery is missing). Wind-powered threshing mills are thought to have been introduced to Orkney (to which they are peculiar) in the latter part of the 19th century. Porches with entrance passages providing opposing points of entry were useful when it was preferable to avoid a prevailing wind on whichever side. 'Swartaback' appears in its present plan-form (minus one slightly later outbuilding to the W side of the yard) on the 1881 OS Map.