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Aspects of Highland Material Culture with Margaret Stewart

Dates: 09/04/18 - 13/04/18
Price: £260 (£180 for students)
Tutor: Margaret Stewart
Eiligible for ILA funding: No

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Above: The Cas-Chrom in use in Skye
Above: Ploughing, Skye
Above: Skye Crofters
Above: Utensils found in a croft house

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig are delighted to welcome back  Margaret Stewart to their Short Course Programme for 2018.

This five day course will begin by defining Material Culture, helping students  to engage with tangible and intangible culture heritage. The course will cover aspects of our culture and history, daily life in the home and work on land and sea, hardship and pleasure, beliefs and customs as well as song and story. 

Subjects covered throughout the course may include :

  • Traditional Dwellings, arable and grazings, infield and outfield,  seaweed and manuring, tools and methods.
  • The daily round, organising of work, repairing the effects of weather.
  • Changes from clachan to crofting system, animal husbandry, tools and implements.
  • Shielings and transhumance.
  • Effects of Emigration & Clearances.
  • Fishing (herring in particular), boat-building, implements and terminology.  
  • Inshore fishing and food from the Sea.
  • Fuel - peat cutting and timber, implements, methods and terminology.
  • Traditional food & drink of the Gael.
  • By the Hearth - Furniture & Clothing , Waulking & Spinning, Churning and Milling, tools and methods.
  • Songs and historical information relating to each subject.

The course will include at least one field trip outwith the college campus and participants are expected to be comfortable walking about 1 mile with ease, so please ensure that you bring a waterproof jacket, a small backpack and comfortable walking shoes.  This course is suitable for fluent speakers and those who have little or no Gaelic but who have a desire to learn the language in the context of its relationship to Gaelic Song & Traditions. Class tuition will be given in Gaelic & English and both languages will also be used on excursion. 

The College also offer a Post-Graduate course MSc Material Culture and Gaidhealtachd History which looks in more details at some of the topics Maighread will be covering in her week long course.


Margaret Stewart was born and raised in the village of Upper Coll on the Isle of Lewis, where song and poetry surrounded her as a child.  Margaret is also widely respected as a mentor and teacher, with many, benefitting from her knowledge of history and song at annual events such as Ceòlas in South Uist, the Willie Clancy Summer School in Ireland, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow.  Margaret has also put her knowledge of music to good use on the Tobar an Dualchais/Kist o' Riches project.

Margaret was Gaelic Musician in Residence at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig in 2012, researching Gaelic songs and traditions on such subjects as War & Conflict, Highland Hospitality & Convivialilty, Emigration & Clearances and the Jacobite Era.

For more information on Margaret Stewart please click here.

Picture Acknowledgements:

  • Ploughing, Skye reproduced by kind permission of Edinburgh Central Library and Am Baile
  • The Cas-Chrom in use in Skye reproduced by kind permission of Mark Butterworth and Am Baile
  • Skye Crofters reproduced by kind permission of Skye & Lochalsh Archive Service and Am Baile
  • Utensils found in a croft house reproduced by kind permission of the Highland Folk Museum and Am Baile