Thursday, January 15, 2009

The feudal store of St Kilda

On making one's way up from the jetty on Hirta, the main island in the St Kilda archipelago, the first building encountered is the store. It is the first modern building on the island and was constructed sometime before 1818. The walls were built using lime mortared stone. The end walls were gabled and constructed with chimneys. The roof was of slate. At that time, the St. Kildans lived in blackhouses whose rounded walls were built from stones and turf and the roofs were made from turf or thatched with barley straw.

The substantial nature of the store was necessary as this was where the island produce of the preceding year was stored. It awaited the annual visit of the factor from the mainland. He collected the islanders' rent in kind, which was to paid to the landlord, the chief of the MacLeods of Dunvegan in Skye. Goods consisted of feathers and oil from seabirds and woven woolen cloth called tweed.

Just behind the store you can see the barrel of a large gun and further on, the wreck of the Spinningdale.

03/06/2008 am


  1. Store looks awfully close to the beach. Wonder how much erosion has occured since 1818? With the wreck in the background, presumably this is a particularly active coastline.
    Also, you mention produce was stored in this building. I'm doing some research on root cellars. I presume that freezing would not be a problem in St. Kilda if vegetables were stored above ground in a building? Have you seen any type of root cellar on your paddling journeys? Alison

  2. Hello Douglas - I love all your St Kilda postings! I worked there briefly, but I'm ashamed to say I took little notice of that building, which we called "the feather store". I think Alison must be right - looks like quite a bit of coastal erosion since they built it!

  3. Hello Alison, this part of the bay is eroding noticeably even over the last few years. Fragments of pottery have been discovered in the eroded bank below the store.

    Root cellars? Please see this post on cleitean!

    Thank you Lucy.