"A Primitive Corner"

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This article was published in the 21 January 1862 edition of the Inverness Advertiser.


A correspondent, who recently paid a visit to a place called Coigach, in Lochbroom, sends us some particulars regarding the locality and its inhabitants, which do not seem to be generally known. Coigach, he informs us, is part of the wide parish of Lochbroom, and is 16 miles long by from 8 to 10 miles in breadth, without a regular road from end to end. The whole district is rough and rocky in the extreme, so much so that it is impossible to stroll out of doors in the evening without a torch, when a novel scene is presented to the eye of a lowlander by the numerous lanterns and torches which from some points may be seen crossing the country in all directions. The district is thickly inhabited, most of the people depending on fishing and their their small crafts. There are only two or three carts in the whole district, the peats being carried home in creels chiefly by the women, and the manure in the same fashion. The land is tilled by an instrument called "the crooked spade," and is harrowed by rakes. As to another agricultural operation, the separation of the grain from the straw, this is managed in a peculiar and most primitive fashion by the women, who, standing on a sheaf barefooted, rub away with their feet until the grain is separated and leaves the straw. The grain is dried in the straw on rude kilns set up in the houses, the only mill near the district being destitute of any means of drying the grain. As happens in many other quarters of the Highlands, the fireplace is situated in the centre of the room, so that the family can sit around in a circle; but smoke-vents are unknown in Coigach, the smoke being allowed to find its way out by means of holes in the roofs -- which holes have also the advantage of admitting the rain, and this, mixing with the soot formed on the roof, falls down in no whitish drops on the parties below. In approaching these huts considerable agility is required to avoid certain disagreeable heaps and pit-falls, neither of them at all suited for the gratification of the olfactory organs. In their habits generally, as may be imagined from this rough sketch, the people are very simple and primitive. Drunkenness is all but unknown amongst them.

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