Croft 6, Eigg's Museum of Crofting Life
For the last 300 years, crofting has shaped the landscape in the north of the island. Hay meadows and crofters' fields divided by stone walls go right up to the base of the Cleadale cliffs. Nestled under these cliffs is Croft 6, an improved blackhouse, now renovated as a museum displaying a wealth of every day objects.
Croft 6 offers a unique insight in the life of an Eigg crofting family. JD Campbell moved into the house with his sister and mother before his wedding in 1902 to Kate MacIntyre from Uist. With a £2 loan from the island proprietor, JD modernised the blackhouse, replacing thatch with tin, building up the gable ends to install the fireplaces that replaced the central hearth, and partitioning the house into kitchen, boxroom and bedroom, using wood reclaimed from the shore for beams and furniture. When their son grew up, JD made him a bedroom in the attic, which also housed tools and fishing implements. JD and Kate' oldest two children served in WW2. Duncan served as Merchant Navy seaman joining the Arctic Convoys. His older sister Mary, a nurse, joined the Queen Alexandra Nursing Corps. Attaining the rank of Captain, she served in the far East, experiencing the siege of Singapore. Both were decorated for bravery.
All of JD and Kate's four children ended up living away from Eigg. Mary took her widowed mother with her in Glasgow after the war where she worked as a district nurse, one of Glasgow's famous "green ladies". Duncan and Dolina returned with their families for summer holidays, but Morag, the second oldest, only came back on her retirement after a life in service to live in the family home for a further 10 years.
Winding the clock back
Exploring Croft 6 is like winding the clock back. The house was originally a Tigh Dubh, a blackhouse thatched with rushes and bracken, once part of the old 18th century Cleadale Township. It was then modernised when conditions of life for the island crofters improved with security of tenure. The modest prosperity which followed was based on cattle, oat and potato crops, supplemented by raising poultry, rabbit trapping and working for the estate.
Discovering the stories behind the objects and memorabilia spanning 100 years of family history brings the story of an Eigg crofting family to life.
Download the Croft 6 app
You can explore the house by yourself although guides from the Eigg History Society are also available for a weekly-guided tour. Soon you will be able to download our Croft 6 app which will guide you around the house's collections. Watch this space!
Costs and opening times
Admission is free but donations are gratefully accepted.
Opening times: every day from April to October.
Guided tours: weekly or by appointment. Contact Camille on 01687 482410
The Cleadale Crossroad
To explore the Cleadale crofting area in more depth, start at the Cleadale crossroad. The interpretive panel situated on top of the hill will give you a better understanding of the landscape and the way it has been shaped by human activities as well as the forces of nature.
Take the top road and follow it to the Croft museum.
St. Columba's well
This is the third stop on the Cleadale crofting trail: listen to the deep sound of the water gurgling out of the earth and taste the purest water on Eigg. Alledgedly blessed by St. Columba, the well never runs dry and was used to baptise newly born infants.
Visit the croft
Opposite the well is St. Columba's organic croft, where organic vegetables and free range eggs can be purchased. Tours of the croft are also available there.
View of the Cleadale township
This stop allows you to look at the modern Cleadale tonship from the same spot used by early photographers as a vantage point: Erskine Beveridge whose pictures date back from the 1880's and M.E.M Donaldson whose photographs were taken at the turn of the century.
The next stop in the crofting trail is Hulin farm, which is one of the newest crofts created on the island by the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust. Look for an interesting array of pets as well as Highland cattle on this croft.
The Sheep fank
The Sheep fank which has been recently restored, was built when Hulin was one of the first island farms to be converted to sheep: island crofters used to work there to smear the sheep with a mixture of tar and butter as well as clip them.
This is the last stop on the crofting trail: an ancient township where only grass covered walls remained to be seen. Its inhabitants did not have crofts. They were poor cotters and earned their living by working the land for the farmer nearby in exchange for a proportion of the harvest, earning the right to pasture a cow and cut a bit of hay for themselves. By the 1880's, the township was abandoned, its inhabitants emigrating away until the stones of the blackhouses were used to build the fank nearby.