Finding the Lost Glebe [1] – The Walled River

Keose Glebe was not always the empty moorland we see today…it was the location of farms (Miavaig, Swordale and Keose), villages (Streangal and Bailenacile(?)) and was traversed by all sorts of cairns and boundarys – both stone and turf.

These walls and dykes were not always constructed with directly paid labour however. The tenants of Keose were forced to collect and transport stone and materials from far and wide, not just for the village wall, but also to build and maintain the boundaries for the farms of Keose and Croigarry.

This was in addition to the rent they paid for their crofts, and the threat of eviction was always present if they failed to comply.

Hidden away at the far end of Loch Keose, Abhainn Miabhaig (the Miavaig River) carries the water from Loch Keose down to the sea at Loch Leurbost, passing the ruins of a number of mills built along its banks.

At some point, perhaps in the 19th century, the river became the boundary between Keose (Keose Glebe) and Croigarry, and a wall was built along its length.

Writing in 1888, some of the Keose tenants at that time stated:

“…[I] made 280 yards of dyke for the glebe by order of the estate on promise of payment at rate of 6d per yard. Notwithstanding this, I was summoned for arrears of rent the very year this account became due, and had to sell the stock to pay the arrears. The estate refused to pay the £7 due me. I could not prosecute the estate as they could turn me out.”; [Roderick Macdonald, 1 Keose]

“[Built]…200 yards stone drain…and 440 yards dyke. There were 6 old houses on the croft when I entered and reclaimed the land on which they were and cleared off the stones and made cairns and dykes of them.”; [John Mackenzie, 2 Keose]

“…In connection with the croft I have to keep up 413 yards of stone and turf dyke…”; [Angus Macaulay, 10 Keose]

While only a faint outline of the turf walls can now be seen, the stone wall along the river still stands – a testament to the labour of former generations. This makes for an interesting walk as you follow the rivers twists and turns down to the sea, and to the ruin of the old Miavaig farmhouse.

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