There are very few old-fashioned thatched cottages to be seen today in the Highlands. A hundred years or so ago thatched houses were very much a part of the Highland scene and within their walls, by the light of the peat fire – the crofters of the Islands kept alive the songs and stories which have made the Hebrides famous throughout the world.
Warm, sturdy and economical of scarce materials, the croft house was admirably suited to the landsacpe and the climate. It embodied the principles of streamlining hundreds of years before scientists thought of the idea, with the result that it could stand up to the worst of the winter gales. As their number fast diminish, it is appropriate that a few should be preserved; and it was with this in mind that this group of old thatched buildings was set aside as a museum.
The first cottage to be opened to the public – in 1965 – was the dwelling-house which dates back to the mid-ninetenth century. This cottage is a good example of the typical Skye house of that era, when houses on the island with very few exceptions, were of this standard and type. By present-day standards the old Highland house was basic and crude but nevertheless, it was adequate in its own day and gave shelter and warmth to men and women who spent most of their time out of doors and cared little about worldly possessions or domestic luxury.
James Boswell in an account of his visit to Skye along with Dr. Johnson in 1773 describes a house in which they stayed in south Skye. He states: ‘We had no rooms that we could command, for the good people here had no notion that a man could have any occasion but for a mere sleeping-place’.