Houses on Tiree
There are still some 12 traditional thatched buildings on Tiree, the highest concentration in Scotland. Their design and style of thatching is unique. With the distinctive ‘spotty’ two storey stone houses, the beauty of the architecture of Tiree is one of the features which strike the visitor. Although our cottage at http://www.struthancottages.co.uk is not a thatched cottage, it still has the traditional look of days gone by.
The traditional thatched house however, is built from partly dressed stones laid without mortar in a double wall. Between the two skins is a layer of sand. Walls are commonly six feet thick with deep inset windows and one doorway. The roof trusses are set onto the inside wall and water runs off the roof and down between the two layers of stone.
The usual material for thatching is muran (grass) which grows on the beach dunes. The muran is laid on loose, and new thatch applied over the old every two years. Traditionally it was held down with an elaborate design of rope held down with stone weights. Chicken wire or fishing nets are now used instead.
Grass or flowers, and occasionally even rhubarb, grew on the tobhta (the wide wall head) and in the summer the dog would lie there. If the dog was absent sheep, and occasionally cattle, would climb up to graze. Such houses generally went out of use on Tiree by the 1950s although a small number are still in use today.