The landlord has promised for some time to replace all the pebbledash (‘harling’ in Scottish) on the north end of the house. It’s cracked, damp gets in, in heavy rain the drains can’t cope and water leaks in through the base of the door… it’s a constant battle against black mould at that end of the house.
This week, it began-
First thing I noticed was the big difference between the left and right sides of that double-roof section. On the right, there are big granite blocks. On the left it’s just made of whatever stones were lying around in the fields. A few things started to click into place.
The mysterious alcove in CStM’s craft room. It mirrors exactly the alcove of the window in my office but that wall backs on to the bathroom. We’ve been wondering about that alcove.
The strange staircase behind a cupboard door that is not at all like the main staircase, and which leads to two upstairs rooms that are not accessible by any other route. One of those rooms has bare stone wall part way up the end of it.
Conclusion? That ‘alcove’ was once a window and the house was roughly T shaped. The right hand part was added later. Bathroom, utility room, large cupboards and two upstairs rooms.
On the extreme left is likely to be the original door.
So I did a bit of digging. The house is on a map dated 1768, so it was already here then. I haven’t been able to find anything earlier so don’t know exactly how old it is. I did manage to pin down the ‘new’ extension though.
There is an entry in a ledger from 1865 that refers to a load of stone tansported here from a place called Gallowshill, 30 years earlier (so around 1835). The stone was used to build the extension.
The thing is… the large stone blocks were cut from a much bigger stone. A stone with large holes in it to support wooden uprights.
It was the stone from the base of a gallows. The record is quite clear on this point.
Oh yeah. I live in a house built, in part, using a cut-up gallows stone. I found this hilarious. CStM, strangely, does not share my enthusiasm. She merely wonders how I always manage to find creepy places to live. It’s purely accidental. I had no idea, and if that coating had not come off the wall, I would never have known.
I won’t put the documents online here, obviously. I might as well just put my address up. Even the small clues in them lead to no other location. The map, well, little has changed in this part of Scotland for centuries. Roads have moved but the old ones are still there, including milestones. Place names are mostly exactly the same. Including this place.
The photos aren’t going to be much of a clue. We’re not on Google Streetview because we’re not visible from the public road and they weren’t allowed to go up private farm roads.
Anyhow, work is progressing. The entire wall was exposed and today they’ve been filling the gaps. Which is good – the old fireplace in the right side of the house has a very thin wall at the back and there was daylight coming through. No wonder it’s cold in there! Or maybe that’s the chill from the gallows stone. Woooo!
Anyhow. Fully exposed, the wall looks like this –
I’d love it if it could stay like that but it’s not an option. It wouldn’t be weatherproof against a north wind, and some of the random rocks used on the left side might be porous. Still, I have photos before it gets covered up again. Both chimneys are capped and out of use. The only live ones are at the far end of the house.
Also, the drain issue is being simultaneously solved. Looks like I’m getting a moat…
I have until next week to finish with Justin Sanebridge’s book, despite all these distractions, because then my parents will be visiting. As soon as they leave it’ll be time to start on the Halloween anthology.
I might name it something along the lines of The Gallows Stone.
Update: No work on the house today or tomorrow so I grapped a couple of pics of progress so far.
Work resumes on Monday – it’s just two guys working on this and they’re moving pretty fast!