Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Airidh na h-aon Oidche - Shielings of the One Night

Over the years I've taken many shieling photos, like these of the intact beehive types near Abhain a'Clair Bhig, and the collapsed shielings on the moor south of Morsgail.

Clair Bhig Beehive shielings
Collapsed shielings south of Morsgail
But I have yet to visit an Airidh na h-aon Oidche; a shieling of the one night. There are quite a few of them in the Western Isles, but I've only seen two named as such on the OS maps. (One example is on Benbecula at NF 817 525.)

The 'One night' typically refers to some tragic, or scary story about how someone died the first night a shieling was occupied, and then no one ever stayed there again. See this link for one of the tales of the Benbecula shieling.  For the story of a one-night shieling on Lewis see this article on the CEUIG website.

I believe most of the one night shielings got their name because they were halfway houses of a sort. When the community had to travel more than one day to reach their traditional shielings they'd spend a night at one of these in-between shelters. If the shieling life interests you see this link for a dissertation on some of the shieling settlements of north Lewis.

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