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Isle of Tiree Photos > Other Collections > Balemartine

Balemartine from the sea - Click to enlarge!
May 2005

Balemartine from Mannal - Click to enlarge!
From Mannal - May 2006

Nearby Places:
Mannal
& Soroby

Balemartine, Tiree - Click to enlarge!
April 2005

Balemartine, Tiree - Click to enlarge!
April 2005

Tiree Roads - Click to enlarge!
Distances in miles - May 2005

Road into Balemartine - Click to enlarge!
May 2005

Balemartine, Tiree - Click to enlarge!
August 2004

Sunset over Balemartine - Click to enlarge!
Sunset over Balemartine - August 2005

Balemartine, Tiree - Click to enlarge!
August 2004

From Ben Hynish, Tiree - Click to enlarge!
March 2005 - From Ben Hynish

From Ben Hynish - Click to enlarge!
March 2005 - From Ben Hynish

Balemartine (Gaelic Baile Mhartainn), like most townships on Tiree, contains a number of traditional buildings. Originally the design was called a Black House (in Gaelic tigh dubh) because the inside of the houses were black from smoke. Wide low drystone walls, up to two metres thick, were constructed and above this a thatched roof held down by rock weighted net was added. The design was common throughout the Hebrides and the west Highlands of Scotland and is particularly well suited Tiree's windy weather. The fire hearth was in the middle of the floor and a hole in the roof allowed the smoke to escape. The atmosphere was however very smokey and contributed to the poor health and child mortality of the inhabitants.

In the 19th century the houses began to be modernised by the additions of end wall chimneys and fireplaces. By 1850 there were few genuine 'hole in roof' black houses left. The practice of painting the house white also began and the style then became knows as tigh geal - white houses. The next innovation was the replacement of thatch with wooden boards covered with tarred felt. Many of Balemartine's houses are exactly of this type although a few original thatched white houses exist around Tiree - see Sandaig Museum.

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Tiree Images .com - Jim Murdoch © 2011