A Study of Turf: Historic Rural Settlements in Scotland and Iceland

This recent study http://www.euppublishing.com/doi/abs/10.3366/E135075240900017X  suggests that the familiar blackhouse wall ‘sandwich’ of two parallel stone walls infilled with earth and topped with turf was actually developed as a direct result of the 1879 Lewis estate regulations.

The implication is that Turf was the predominant building material in the earliest times, turf being ideally suited for the purpose in this environment, and that centuries of adaptation and innovation involving combinations of turf and stone ensued until the development of the ‘traditional’ island blackhouse in the late 19thC.

Thus the form appears to have arisen following centuries of continuity and change based upon methods used in the days of the Norse but amended in ways reflecting the unique circumstances pertaining in the isles.

It is a fascinating study and my attempt at this brief synopsis is a poor substitute to reading the account in full.

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