| "A Visit to the Viking Boatyard on the Rubh’an Dunain peninsula, Skye"
Les and Sue Knight visited this beautiful location in August this year, rather appropriately on their daughter’s boat.
Setting the site in context, Les explained that the area was first inhabited by Picts, christianised by St Columba in AD563. Viking raids began around AD800, with boats sailing out of Norway and down to the Western Isles, intent on looting and pillage. The early Christian settlement of Iona was first raided in 795, with subsequent attacks taking place in 802, 806, and 825. The monasteries must have presented an easy target, housing as they did valuable silver artefacts and books with treasure bindings, all undefended and easy to carry away. The raids gradually petered out but from 1079 Norse settlers arrived, displacing the Pictish peoples and establishing Sodor, the Kingdom of the Isles. The extent of the take-over is reflected in place names, with 86% of current names being of Old Norse derivation. This settlement took place during the Medieval Warm Period, when climatic conditions were more favourable to farming.
The rule of Norway ended in 1266 with the Treaty of Perth when Skye became part of the Kingdom of Scotland and the Gaelic Renaissance commenced.
The Viking Boatyard is an extensive site on Loch na h-airde, a small lochan linked by a channel to the sea in the west of Skye. The channel was canalised by Viking builders who also created boathouses on slipways (“noosts”) also two quays, store houses and other buildings; a whole complex. It is still possible to make out the outline of many of these structures on drone footage. Underwater exploration in 2009 retrieved two oak timbers from a 4m. boat called a berlinn, which were carbon-dated to around AD 1100.
Historic Environment Scotland has designated the site as a Scheduled Monument and further details are available on their website.
Many thanks to Les for a fascinating talk which we all enjoyed very much.
This was followed by Jane Harrison's excellent analysis of the Enclosed Romano-British settlement at Applegarth, which you can read about in my earlier blog. This gave rise to a lively discussion including some members who had visited in 2011 with Tim. There are comparisons to be drawn with The Hagg and, Covid permitting, further investigation.