Cross Stitch Kit – Garenin Blackhouse Village

Cross Stitch Kit – Garenin Blackhouse Village

(2 customer reviews)

Garenin Blackhouse Village

The counted cross stitch kit contains everything that is needed to complete the design except a frame. The finished design is 150 x 69 stitches which about 27 x 13 cm, is worked in double stranded cross stitch which includes quarter and three quarter stitches, and back stitches.

The kit contains 14 count white aida fabric; a needle; Anchor stranded cotton threads arranged on organiser cards; the design is printed on 2 sheets with shaded overlap region and centre arrows and an additional sheet showing the backstich; a thread key; a print of the finished work on the cover sheet and a general sheet of instructions to cross stitch.

 Kits will be posted on a Friday as this reduces the long, petrol consuming trip to the post office to once a week.


3 in stock

Garenin (or Gearrannan) Blackhouse Village is a crofting township consisting of nine blackhouses, each was the home of a crofting family and located on the family croft. The blackhouses were long, narrow buildings constructed with a double dry-stone wall with earth filling the gap between them. Roof timbers were placed on the inner wall so there was a substantial ledge at the wall head. The roof was thatched with turf and cereal straw and then held in place by ropes which were anchored down with rocks. Should more space be needed for storage, rather than build a wider blackhouse, a second was built along side and usually connected to the first. The design was ideal for the windswept Hebrides as the low profile offered little resistance to the wind and the thick walls gave great insulation while the elaborate roping held the thatch secure. The last of the elderly inhabitants moved in 1974 to more modern ‘white’ houses which needed much less annual maintenance. Sadly, the buildings rapidly fell into disrepair until Urras nan Gearannan (The Garenin Trust) was set up to restore the village. The village blackhouses have now become a museum, cafe and shop and self-catering accommodation, all managed and maintained by the Trust.

These blackhouses may well have been the final stage of the evolution of the North Atlantic longhouse tradition which could have started 1000 years ago with similar houses made of turf and thatch. These buildings would have been both living quarters and byre with the livestock living at one end and the people at the other. The cooking hearth was in the middle of the room with the smoke filtering through the roof and the older Garenin blackhouses followed this pattern. The soot covering of the inside of the blackhouse may well have been the origin of the name, although it is just as likely simply to distinguish the traditional stone built houses from the more modern, two storey ‘white’ houses which became more common during the 20th century. The village blackhouses were constructed sometime between 1850 and the early part of the 20th century. While the older blackhouses were built in the traditional style, they were extensively modernised later, with fire places and chimneys at the gable ends, the living area divided into partitioned rooms and, in a couple of blackhouses which were built at a later date, the byre for animals was was quite separate from the main part of the building.

There is evidence of a prehistoric (ironage) settlement in this area at least 2000 years ago but this seems to have been abandoned with a long period with no permanent habitation. In the 16th century, a small settlement was established called Sithean (meaning Fairy Knoll), not at the site of the present village but a little further south. At that time, the whole Island was owned by the MacLeods (and later by the MacKenzies of Seaforth)  who had the right to collect rent and could evict tenants at will. The land was farmed collectively on a ‘runrig’ system whereby the arable land was divided into strips and allocated to individual tenants every year or so for them to work on their own. Between 1845 and 1850 there was much hardship as the potato crop failed. This resulted in a lot of families on the Island emigrating and may well have included 2 families from Sithean. Around the end of this period, the Lewis Estate, now owned by Sir James Matheson, abandoned the runrig system and allocated each tenant their own a croft with the requirement that they must leave their homes in Sithean and build new houses on their crofts. The older blackhouses in the village date from this period but built in the traditional style. It was only after the Crofters Act of 1886 which gave crofter security of tenure, were they able to build and improve their houses without fear of eviction. Two of the houses on the north of the road were built in this period.  With the improvements in building methods such as the stone built and harled ‘white houses’, the families slowly left their blackhouse homes, finally leaving the village empty in 1974. We are grateful that the Gearreannan Trust was able to renovate the village back to its former state for all to enjoy. If you can’t visit Gearrannan, you can always stitch the kit.

The original photograph is courtesy of my friend and colleague Iain MacArthur.

Shipping Continents: Europe

Shipping Countries: United Kingdom (UK)

2 reviews for Cross Stitch Kit – Garenin Blackhouse Village

1-2 of 2 reviews
  1. Lovely kit. Looking forward to stitching it.

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