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Cleit Galz!

22 September 2015
Accompanying the EAA delegates out to St Kilda on the 7th of September were four fourth-year archaeology students, three from Glasgow and one from Aberdeen. Amy, Leonie, Lucy, and Orla came to the island to undertake some fairly massive repairs to two cleit turf roofs.

It has long been suggested that September is a good time to undertake these repairs as the grass will be ‘concentrating’ on consolidating for the winter rather than on growing vigorously as it does in spring.

The challenge was faced was substantial however – Cleit 55 is probably the largest cleit roof repair needed with the Village. One entire side needed replaced, as did a whole end. In the end, it took 115 wheelbarrows of soil and ten of stone, barrowed uphill all the way, to build the roof.  Dozens of huge heavy turfs cut from nearby provided the covering. Particular care was taken to try to preserve a steep profile – the turf roof should be ‘c-shaped’ in section, not a flattened ‘v-shape’. We were pleased with the results!

Cleit Roofs 2015 - C55 beforeCleit Roofs 2015 - C55 DuringCleit Roofs 2015 - C55 after

Next came cleit 74, the cleit containing a re-used stone inscribed with an early medieval cross. The font of this cleit had collapsed and was rebuilt in 2013, so it was particularly satisfying to see the cleit undergo a total reversal of fortunes over just a couple of years.

Cleit Roofs 2015 - C74 beforeCleit Roofs 2015 - C74 after

We expect that the roofs will slump and settle somewhat over time, but I have high hopes that they should be mostly intact in five or ten years, hopefully the archaeologist then will update me…

Big thanks to the five galz for all their help and hard work! Hope you enjoyed the good nights in the Puffy!


Àrsair Hiort/ St Kilda Archaeologist

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