July 2019 - For a few thousand years, the homes of people living in the western Isles and highlands of Scotland were roofed with turf, hay and straw. An effective means of keeping the rain out but does require regular maintenance. Due to the lack of rushes on the island, these thatch roofs are not like those that you associate with English houses of the same period. To construct a roof on a blackhouse the timbers are supported on the top of the wall head and braced together, the timbers being tied rather than nailed.
Turf slabs are lain ontop of the timbers a bit like roofing tiles, then the hay and straw piled on top to a good depth, this is all then tied down using ropes with heavy stones attached to the ends in order to weigh down the thatch. Wind tears at the roof, so regular maintenance is required.