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the houses or ‘clachans’ of Lewis, was fully described by Sir
Arthur Mitchell in his Past in t/ze Present.

In the Lewis ‘clachans’ there was also to be found the most
primitive form of roof, in which the rafters are laid, like joists,
horizontally from wall to wall. As this primitive roof was super-
seded by the pitched roof, and did not form a factor in the develop-
ment of English building construction, it has not been thought
necessary to mention it previously.

On the flat roof the straw was heaped so thickly that it had
an outline more or less semicircular when seen from outside. The
thatch was removed every year for the sake of the soot which it
contained, as that was considered to be a valuable stimulating
manure. The ropes laid over the straw were of heather, and they
were held down by stones, as weights, swinging from their ends].
According to another account the ropes are of straw ; there are no
projecting eaves, and the tops of the walls are covered with sods;
some rain finds its way through the loose straw, but the amount
is said to be trifling2.

Mr E. W. M..Corbett has kindly informed the writer that in the
‘clachans’ the roofs are composed of ‘ a mass of rushes and rough
grass, laid on cross timbers and formed a curved surface, tied on
with hay-bands.’ This roof covering, he says, is removed periodi-
cally, and carried on the backs of the inhabitants, generally the
women, to the crofts, where it is spread to serve as manure, for
in the absence of chimneys, the smoke from the house fire finds
its way through the roof, leaving the soot among the grass, etc.
Perhaps the roof was formed as it was with that object. According
to Sir Arthur Mitchell, in heavy rain there were drops of black
water everywhere.

The straw on the roofs of the Manx cottages is not laid loosely
on a flat roof, but on a sloping roof in the usual orderly layers. It
is held down by straw ropes which are crossed at right angles
at intervals of 12 in. or 18 in. ‘The duration of this roofing is
short, not lasting above two years’: this is due to the decay of
the straw ropes". The ropes are called ‘sugganes’ and the same
name is used in Scotland and Ireland. They are twisted by

1 Past in the Present, p. 53.

2 H. Whiteside Williams in Relz'yuary, v1 (1900), pp. 75-6.

3 B. Quayle, General View of tlze Agriculture qf tlze Isle q/ Mgm (1794), p. 17.
T. Quayle, ibz'a'. (1819), p. 23. '

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