There are no written records regardinga mill on Berneray, Harris that I know of; no millers are recorded in thecensuses from 1841 onwards, there is no place name indicating the site of amill, no identified archaeological evidence.
An aerial photograph of the area maybe seen online
where, if one follows the river near the middle of the image upstream from thesea, the ‘Mill’ on the map appears to be located on the left bank just above theruins to be seen on its right bank and with which it may have been associated.
This raises several intriguingquestions:
When was the mill built? Is itancient or, perhaps, part of the developments introduced by Captain Macleodafter he bought the whole of Harris in 1779?
Why did the mill apparently cease tobe used during the first half of the 19thC? Had it been milling grain fromPabbay and thus become redundant when that island, which had at one time been ‘thegranary of Harris’, was Cleared for a sheep farm in the 1840s?
How is itthat this significant place never gained the honour of being named nor ofotherwise being mentioned in writing? This might indicate that it was both relatively‘modern’ and short-lived, thus supporting the idea of a link to Captain Macleodwhose efforts ceased with his death in 1790 and whose son, Alexander Hume Macleod, apparentlycommissioned Bald’s map.
The only waythat the answers to these questions may be found is by a proper archaeological surveyof the site but meanwhile my conjecture is that it was a grain mill and thatthe same boats that would later bring the people of Pabbay to pray in Berneray, followingthe building of the Parliamentary Church in 1829, would have been bringing grainto be milled in this now long-forgotten mill.
I have been patiently waiting to obtain a copy of the late Alick Morrison’s (1911-2005) 1961 book:
An Ribheid Chiuil
being the Poems of
Iain Archie MacAskill, 1898-1933
Bard of Berneray, Harris
When a signed copy appeared for sale the temptation proved irresistible!
What has proved a most intriguing surprise, however, is the handwritten inscription:
To Fred Macaulay
With Kindest Regards
I shall have to do a little more checking but the name Fred MacAulay is extremely rare in Scotland and it seems entirely plausible that Alick Morrison would sign a copy of his new book for the fellow Gaelic scholar from just across the Sound of Berneray?
Incidentally, Fred MacAualy was named, via a relative Frederick Thomas Gillies, after Captain FWL Thomas.