Shawbost Norse Mill
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Local Shawbost resident Finlay Macleod is probably the leading authority on a very ancient form of water powered mill called a Norse Mill and Finlay has recently published a book on the subject. From the upstairs bedroom windows of Dollag's Cottage you can see a rebuilt Norse Mill and the visitor should be sure to visit it during their stay in the cottage. The mill was used to produce flour from the grain grown in the area and in the past there were a lot of these mills on the island, in fact there are 16 known mill sites in Shawbost alone and the visitor might get some entertainment from trying to locate all of them. What is, perhaps, remarkable about the Norse Mills of Lewis is that although they were of a very old design they were still in use up until the Second World War. Exactly who or where the type of horizontal mill known as the Norse Mill was invented is unclear but there is some thought it may even have been invented as far away as China and it is well documented in Ireland. Due in part to the almost complete Irish Dendrochronology (a method of dating wood based upon the patterns in the tree rings which often allows dating to an exact year) it is known that there were Norse Mills in Ireland by 630AD but the first actual account of them on Lewis dates to 1718. The visitor will need to consult with Finlay on whether he believes the mills arrived on Lewis around the time they appeared in Ireland or whether he suspects they are much more recent. Until the mills fell out of use they were important elements of the local community and milling was often done during the night, there are still people on the island who recall being in the mills during their childhood.
To visit the mill you could take the car to the car park at the end of Loch Raoinebhat, as detailed on the Shawbost Stone Circle page, and walk out the path to the mill or you could easily walk to the mill directly from Dollag's Cottage by turning right, instead of going left down to the shore, just down the road from the cottage and then walking out to the mill from there.
Dollag's Cottage @ 7 South Shawbost
Shawbost norse mill on the Isle of Lewis
Shawbost norse mill on the Isle of Lewis
Below:
The reconstructed Norse Mill at Shawbost only a short distance from Dollag's Cottage