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Cruck Cottage

A rare survival of a vernacular building, the Cruck Cottage is located on Shieldhill Road in the village of Torthorwald (Dumfries and Galloway). It represents a style of building which would have been common in this area from Mediaeval times until the end of the 19th century. This example was probably built in the mid-18th C. and is now unique. The key feature of this building is its three cruck frames, constructed of rough-hewn oak, which take the weight of the roof. These are equally spaced, each separated by around 2.7m (9 feet) and sit on low stone bases, now incorporated into stone walls constructed in the 19th C. A ridge-tree (at the apex of the cruck) and purlins run along the length of the cottage, and are attached to the cruck frames using oak pegs. Rafters comprising birch saplings cross over these purlins and support the turfs which cover the roof. The lime-mortared stone (rubble) walls seen today are improvements; the originals would probably have been made of clay or turf.

By the 1970s, the cottage was in a state of disrepair but was restored and again became a home. However, by 1990, it was again empty and in danger of being lost. The owner then gave it to Solway Heritage, along with a donation of 1000 to being the process of preservation. A complete restoration was undertaken, in consultation with Historic Scotland, with the walls and ancient timbers repaired, and the roof replaced with a wheat straw thatch over heather turf.

Although the interior now comprises a single space, it was probably once of the two-room but-and-ben style, typical of Scotland. At the kitchen end (west), there is a 'hanging lum' (suspended chimney) while at the bedroom end (east) there is a Victorian cast-iron fireplace. The cottage has been furnished as it would have been c.1900, using only original items and with great attention to detail.

The Cruck Cottage Heritage Association was formed in 2003 to ensure ongoing maintenance is undertaken and to encourage access by the local community and visitors. Access is via a list of keyholders who live in the village. Regular events are organised, often demonstrations of traditional crafts, music and food.


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