MHG58613 - Lazy beds, Eilean Rarsaidh


Lazy beds, Eilean Rarsaidh

Type and Period (1)

  • LAZY BEDS (Post Medieval - 1560 AD? to 1900 AD?)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Eilean Ràrsaidh
This island was visited by NOSAS in 2006 and 2009 as part of an archaeological survey of Loch Hourn.

The island is split between heather covered rock to the west and a much smaller area of generally lower and more fertile ground to the east, sheltered by the higher rocky ground to the west.The whole of the east end of the island is regenerating naturally with native trespecies below which bracken and brambles dominate, but there are large areas where bluebell and wild garlic cover the ground. A deserted settlement was noted during a reconnaissance trip in May 2006. There are approx 8 buildings in the main cluster on the north side of the island, under the lee of low cliffs. Here there is also a fine well in perfect order and a small corn drying kiln. The buildings are in various stages of natural decay. The best of the low ground, c 1.5 hectares, is enclosed by a substantial stone wall and on the east side of this field there are several more small buildings and animal pens. There are cleared landing places on the N, E and W sides of the island, all located towards its east end. <1>

This island appears to have been a little self sufficient world all of its own, about which various stories are told (English 2000, 287; Billy Mackenzie, pers. Comm.). It is something of a time capsule as, following its abandonment, the structural remains have principally been subject only to the natural forces of decay. After landing here for a quick reconnaissance in both 2006 and in 2008, we were well aware that the island was very overgrown with rank heather, bracken, brambles and trees. A team of 8 spent a day here in 2009, removing years of dead bracken off the buildings, so that they could be properly recorded and photographed. We surveyed the whole island and carefully plotted all of the cultivation remains.

Site 1541. The western half of the island (c.6ha in size) has been enclosed to form a field of sorts. It is bounded by cliffs to the N, W and S, and to the E by the boundary wall shared with the adjacent field (Site 1540) and enclosure (Site 1543). The 'field' contains 9 distinct plots of lazy beds, utilising every possible scrap of cultivable land. Some parts, whilst not cultivated, show signs of improvement, witnessed by the vegetation (strong bracken instead of rank heather), and may have been used for hay. In the central, N draining gully, some of the well preserved lazy beds are overgrown with semi-mature birch. Elsewhere, the ground cover is a mixture of rank heather and bracken. <2>

Notes; GIS spatial data amended to location as seen on 2009 report plan p.21 Fig 5.
See MHG 25470 for settlement details (T.Blackie 5/9/18)

Sources/Archives (2)



Grid reference Centred NG 8115 1159 (215m by 160m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NG81SW
Geographical Area SKYE AND LOCHALSH
Civil Parish GLENELG

Finds (0)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Investigations/Events (2)

External Links (0)

Comments and Feedback

Do you have any more information about this record? Please feel free to comment with information and photographs, or ask any questions, using the "Disqus" tool below. Comments are moderated, and we aim to respond/publish as soon as possible.