MHG5267 - Deserted Settlement - South Holm


A deserted settlement, comprising 12 ruined houses with a number of yards and outbuildings and likely contemporary with surrounding lazy- bed system. Another, later settlement lies to the north (MHG13984)

Type and Period (4)

  • TOWNSHIP (Medieval to 19th Century - 1058 AD? to 1900 AD?)
  • HOUSE (Medieval to 19th Century - 1058 AD? to 1900 AD?)
  • BUILDING (Medieval to 19th Century - 1058 AD? to 1900 AD?)
  • CULTIVATION REMAINS (Medieval to 19th Century - 1058 AD? to 1900 AD?)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

NG55SW 1 518 507 to 518 517.

NG 517 513 Holm: described as a'village' c. 1695 (Martin 1934). And shown as a township by Johnson in 1824 (Information from W Johnson's Map of Skye, 1824) but totally deserted by 1875 (OS 6"map, Isle of Skye, Inverness-shire, 2nd ed., 1875).
M Martin 1934.

Holm consists of two distinct depopulated townships. The earlier run-rig settlement, centred at NG 518 507 (MHG5267), is situated on a shelf of a steep cliff at a height of about 500' OD. It comprises about 12 ruined houses with a number of yards and outbuildings, the whole clearly contemporary with the surrounding lazy-bed system.
The later settlement, at NG 518 517 (MHG13984), a sheep farm, is situated on the 250' raised beach. There is a large ruined house of mortared rubble masonry standing to the height of the gable at the E end, which is surrounded by about eight ruined houses. A considerable area of cleared land is visible round about but no run-rig, and to the S there is a large sheepfold.
Visited by OS (A C) 29 April 1961.

A township (centred on NG 518 517, MHG13984) comprising five unroofed buildings and a short length of wall is depicted on the 1st edition of the OS 6-inch map (Inverness-shire, Island of Skye 1878, sheet xviii). Approximately 650m to the S (NG 518 510) are a roofed and an unroofed building attached to the wall of a field and a further 300m to the SE is another roofed building. Another unroofed building lies approximately 450m S of the township (NG 5192 5127).
On the current edition of the OS 1:10560 map (1968) the township comprises eight unroofed buildings and two lengths of wall. The field is shown with one unroofed building attached and the single roofed building is not shown. A second township (centred on NG 518 507, MHG5267) comprising twelve unroofed buildings, four enclosures and a length of wall is also depicted.
Information from RCAHMS (SAH) 10 October 1996

The township of Holm was part of the tack of Scorrybreac, which was held by the Nicolson chiefs from Lord MacDonald of Sleat, until 1827. It then became part of the large sheep walk called Scorrybreac Sheep Farm, which, by the mid-nineteenth century had become one of the largest sheep farms in Scotland (for further information see the attached file, 'Scorrybreac Sheep Farm').
The township had two foci (North Holm MHG13984 and South Holm MHG5267). Local tradition states that people remained in Holm after the sheep farm was created in 1827, but that they lost their tenancies and remained only as cottars and fishermen. There is lazy bed cultivation at the South Holm settlement, but not at North Holm, which suggests that the people were cleared from South to North Holm about that time. About 1840 those cottars left ‘en masse’ to the jute factories in Dundee. The shepherd’s house (building number 1) at North Holm (MHG13984) is said to have been one of seven shepherd’s houses associated with the sheep farm. It seems likely that the attached enclosures and perhaps buildings 2 and 3 were also in use during the sheep farming period.
Both townships were surveyed by SRP Storr Lochs during June 2011 and detailed descriptions, plans and photographs we made during this survey.
Information from SRP Storr Lochs, July 2011.

The township of South Holm lies in rough grazing on a N facing hillside, c1km SW of Holm Island. It occupies a coastal terrace, set above steep E-facing cliffs, at an altitude of 75-90m OD. The township consists of fourteen buildings, about half with attached enclosures, and two sub-circular enclosures. Most of the buildings are aligned approximately E-W, their walls are of a dry stone rubble construction, with rounded corners, and stand up to 1.5m high. They are described below from S to N and this description should be read in conjunction with the site plans and photograph which are attached to this record (in particular, see the ‘measured plan of township showing building numbers’).
Building 1 (NG 51875 50486) is 8m long and has an enclosure, approximately 15m square, attached to its S wall.
Building 2 (NG 51876 50491) measures 12m x 3.1m internally, with a small outshot attached to its N wall.
Building 3 (NG 51863 50492) measures 6m x 2.7m internally, with an entrance in its N wall.
Building 4 (NG51858 50503) is slightly terraced into the natural slope and measures 7m x 3.5m internally, with an entrance in its S wall.
Building 5 (NG51867 50534) measures 11m x 5m, with an entrance in its N wall and a small pen built inside the W end. A large enclosure, approximately 12m square, is attached to its S wall, and there is a smaller enclosure or building in its NE corner.
Structure 6 (NG51874 50549) is the fragmentary remains of a small structure, measuring approximately 7m x 4m. Only the earth-fast stone footings survive.
Building 7 (NG 51861 50566) measures 7m x 2.5m internally, with an entrance in its SW wall. A large enclosure, approximately 30m x 20m, is attached to its SW wall, and there is a rectangular platform, approximately 13m x 15m in its SW corner.
Building 8 (NG 51883 50585) measures 10m x 3.5m internally, with an entrance in its N wall.
Building 9 (NG 51847 50576) measures 12m x 3.5m internally, with an entrance in its S wall. An outshot, measuring 7m x 3m internally, is set at right angles and attached to its W end.
Building 10 (NG 51836 50588) is 9m long. An outshot or enclosure, 7m long, is attached to its NW wall, but the structures are not interconnected. The walls stand up to 1m high, but are more degraded at the S end.
Building 11 (NG 51876 50587) measures 9m x 3.5m internally, with an entrance in its E (end) wall. An enclosure, approximately 9m x 15m connects this building to building 12.
Building 12 (NG51874 50601) measures 15m x 5m internally, with an entrance in its N wall.
Building 13 (NG 51863 50621) measures 14m x 3.5m internally, with entrances in its N and S walls. A short, curving length of wall outside the N entrance forms a shelter round the entrance area.
Structure 14 (NG 51843 50612) is a pentagon-shaped enclosure measuring 14m in diameter. Its walls are 0.5m thick.
Building 15 (NG 51847 50650) is terraced into the slope and measures 10m x 4m externally, with entrances in its E (end) and N walls. The walls stand up to 1.5m high and are battered, measuring 2m wide at the base, tapering to 1m at the top.
This township is not shown on the 1st Edition OS map, but the land it occupies is shown as improved ground associated with North Holm township (MHG13984), which lies c1.4km to the N. The modern OS map shows buildings and structures 1 (enclosure only), 2, 3, 4 (as an enclosure), 5 (but different from plan), 7, 8, 9 (without the W outshot), 10 (without the N outshot), 11, 12 (with other walls to the S & E), 13, 14, 15 (without the E outshot). A further building (missing its S wall) is shown N of building 15 and another to the NW of the site, with a length of wall to the N.
Information from SRP Storr Lochs, July 2011.

Sources/Archives (2)



Grid reference Centred NG 5185 5060 (186m by 303m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NG55SW
Geographical Area SKYE AND LOCHALSH
Civil Parish PORTREE

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (3)

Related Investigations/Events (0)

External Links (2)

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