Archaeologists to investigate 18th century hut following storm damage

A recent storm has allowed archaeologists a chance to investigate a cleit on the remote isle of St Kilda.

Archaeologists to investigate 18th century hut following storm damage Supplied

Archaeologists are to investigate the story behind a historic piece of architecture on a remote Scottish island after it was damaged in a storm.

A collapsed cleit, a stone-built turf-roofed hut, on the isolated archipelago of St Kilda is believed to have been built on the site of a house where a former 18th century aristocrat lived.

It is believed that Lady Grange, Rachel Chiesley, was forced to live on St Kilda after being kidnapped by her husband, James Erskine, a Jacobite supporter who feared his wife would expose his sympathies to the UK government.

St Kilda, which sits 40 miles northwest of North Uist, Outer Hebrides, was abandoned by its last islanders in 1930.

The National Trust for Scotland (NTS) said the structure has a ‘really interesting history’ and believe that stones from the house that Lady Grange lived in were used in the building of the cleit.

Archaeologists will now analyse the construction techniques and materials from the damaged hut.

The cleit before it was damaged by a storm. Supplied

Susan Bain, The NTS Western Isles Manager, said: “This is a fascinating structure, with a really interesting history and we now have an unparalleled opportunity to discover so much more about it. Over the coming months, we’ll not only be investigating the cause of the collapse, but we’ll also be able to analyse the building techniques and materials.

“We’ll also be able to get a really good look at the roof and take soil samples that will help us understand so much more about how the St Kildans created these unique buildings.

“We hope too to discover whether there are any elements of the earlier structure, where Lady Grange spent her time on Hirta, incorporated into this cleit.

“Our records suggest that it has never previously been repaired but we’d love to hear from anyone who may have images of the structure that could shed light on its more recent history.

“It’s never good when a structure sustains damage, but the Trust and our talented contractors are very experienced in dealing with these issues on St Kilda and making repairs on an ongoing basis.

“Without our work to protect and restore the buildings here, very few would still be standing. We are very grateful to everyone who supports our charity for helping make our work to conserve the UK’s only dual World Heritage Site possible.”

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