Scotlands History

Blackhouses

A blackhouse was a small, traditional stone-built house, found most commonly in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.

The structure was generally a double dry stone wall, wooden rafters, packed earth floor and thatched roof made of turf with straw. There was no chimney. The blackhouse was home to both people and their livestock.

The origin of the name is unsure. Some believe the ‘black’ is a simple contrast with the later ‘white’ houses, while others believe that the Gaelic term for ‘black’ sounds very like the Gaelic word for ‘thatch’, and the correct meaning was lost in translation.

  • Photo of the outside and thatched roof of the Arnol Blackhouse
  • An image of a spinning wheel in a blackhouse
Click on the image to view a larger version.