Norse or Click Mills

Shawbost Norse Mill and Kiln, Isle of Lewis


The only working Norse mill in the Western Isles


The drying kiln and small mill were in use until the 1930s and have been carefully reconstructed. They have dry stone walls and a traditionally thatched roof which is roped down around the twin crowsticks at either end of the building. Stones help hold everything in place.

Shawbost Norse mill and kiln, Isle of Lewis

Drying grain for milling was always a problem in the damp climate of the Western Isles. Many crofts had a small drying kiln attached to the Barn. Here it is a separate building, set above the mill.

Shawbost Norse mill and kiln,
                Isle of Lewis

Inside is a raised stone platform with a central stone lined pit which contained a slow burning fire to dry the grain. The grain was laid on a wooden platform suspended across the pit. Three large bags of grain could be dried in 6-8 hours and had to be turned regularly by hand to prevent it burning and to make sure it dried evenly.
 
Shawbost Norse mill and kiln,
                Isle of Lewis

Water from the nearby burn was brought by a lade to the mill and channelled down a shute onto the horizontal water wheel.

Shawbost Norse mill and kiln,
                Isle of Lewis

The paddles are slightly angled to give a smooth flow of water.

Shawbost Norse mill and kiln,
                Isle of Lewis

This turned the upper millstone. As the stone turned, a peg knocked the hopper which trickled grain into a hole in the centre of the millstone. The flour was pushed out of the sides of the stones and collected in the groove around the two stones. 

Shawbost Norse mill and kiln,
                Isle of Lewis

The two buildings are set below the A858. There is a small car park by Loch Roinavat and paved track down to the buildings. The nearest post code is HS2 9BJ and the grid reference is NB 244463. There is a map here.

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