Mòinteach gun Mhuileann - Moorland without Turbines
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Gallery - Sheilings

In the past the crofters' cattle were taken away from the villages and out onto the moorland pasture in the centre of the islands for the summer months. Due to the distances involved, the older generations and children would walk the animals out in May and then take up residence in small stone and turf bothies out on the moor called sheilings, only permenantly returning to the villages in August.   The middle generation mainly stayed in the villages to work and tend crops. Throughout the summer, when necessary, supplies would be carried between the villages and the sheilings on foot.

This transhumance more or less died out in the 1950s but their time on the sheilings in the interior of the moor is remembered with great fondness and nostalgia by the generation who spent their childhood summers there. Although many sheilings have now fallen into ruin, others have been maintained or quietly restored, while in some areas new sheilings have been built on the original sites. Many people still use their family sheilings not out of practical necessity but as a place of peace and tranquillity, for holidays, or to rest for a time, much like a Zen hermitage.  Sheilings that are still in use can be easily seen along the Pentland Road near Stornoway and at Cuishader, Ness, although there are also others scattered accross the moor.

In respect of the windfarms, the Lewis sheilings have been dismissed on the basis that they are not permenantly occupied dwellings. Lewis Wind Power initially proposed to construct turbines and site road through the middle of the Cuishader sheilings (see picture below) but following a public outcry these turbines have been omitted from the revised planning submissions.  In addition to damage to the landscape, a major effect on those sheilings which remain in the development areas will be noise.  Lewis Wind Power have chosen to apply a noise limit of 35dBA for residential properties in the villages adjacent to the site, but within the main turbine areas noise will be between 50 and 60 dBA. This is four times as loud a the noise limits Lewis Wind Power have chosen for villages, and twice as loud as the external noise level that the World Health Organisation suggests is necessary for people to get back to sleep in their bedrooms.

Traditional sheiling, Barvas Moor

Traditional sheiling, Barvas Moor


Sheiling fire

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Sheiling and Loch


Sheiling alcoves


Sheiling ruin, Barvas Moor

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Ruins, Pairc

Cuishader Sheilings, Nis.jpg

Modern Sheilings at Cuishader, Ness
(In the 2004 application Lewis Wind Power proposed to construct turbines here. Following a public outcry these turbines have been omitted from the revised proposals but used sheilings in other areas remain affected)


Modern sheiling, Pentland Road

Modern Sheiling, Barvas Moor


Occupied sheiling, Barvas Moor

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