On Friday we said goodbye to Innes Watson, one of the masons who helps us out here. He has helped to restore the south gable of Blackhouse H which collapsed under heavy rain in July. This is not unexpected as the adjoing Blackhouse G collapsed in a similar fashion in 2014 and has also been repaired.
This is a tricky job to do as Innes has to match the existing face in the St Kildan-style from photographs while maintaining better structural integrity by creating a drystone wall behind. We also needed to produce a Method Statement and ask for Scheduled Monument Consent from Historic Environment Scotland before work could start.
As can be seen the collapse was quite considerable and Innes had to first try and identify where each stone went, while recognising that at least the south east corner had already been part-restored by an earlier NTS work party.
Cleaning back the rubble and loose soil revealed the original soil and stone that had infilled the Blackhouse wall when the house was first built after 1830. The soil infill was almost certainly midden material packed in as insulation between the two walls. At the south west corner (left) you can see the drain running out from the byre onto the street.
By the end of his visit Innes had rebuilt the wallhead up to the original blackhouse gable height and made it safe for visitors to walk past here (our last visitors came out on the 15th September and the stormy weather we have been experiencing has meant we haven't seen anyone new since then......)
As you can see Innes has done a great job in building up the wallhead. We will have to wait for calmer weather next spring before we can erect scaffolding to let Innes re-build the small gable for what became the byre for House 8.