Peat Smoke in Arnol Blackhouse, Isle of Lewis

Blackhouses are thousands of years old.  Two stone walls with a space between them filled with earth or peat are topped with a wooden frame that supported a thatch or turf roof.  The roof frame rests on the inner of the two walls giving a distinctive shelf to the outside walls.  In storms the thatch or turf had a habit of blowing away so it was held down with netting and stones. A unique design adapted to survive the elements.

Inside these homes the animals and their owners lived side by side, protected from the harshest elements that nature could throw at this small corner of the planet.

Stepping inside the blackhouse at Arnol the wind dropped.  The smell of peat permeated every surface and the taste of smoke was present even before you entered the living space.  Never being allowed to go out and still burning continually today, the fire really was the heart of the home.

The smell of peat as you enter the blackhouse at Arnol takes you back to a time when animals and humans lived side by side.

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