Ancient Monuments

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Unish House,house,outbuildings and steading

A Scheduled Monument in Eilean á Chèo, Highland

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Latitude: 57.598 / 57°35'52"N

Longitude: -6.6223 / 6°37'20"W

OS Eastings: 123941

OS Northings: 865858

OS Grid: NG239658

Mapcode National: GBR B81M.TR3

Mapcode Global: WGX4T.79R3

Entry Name: Unish House,house,outbuildings and steading

Scheduled Date: 10 January 1994

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM5872

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: house

Location: Duirinish

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Eilean á Chèo

Traditional County: Inverness-shire


The monument consists of the remains of Unish House, a domestic residence of early seventeenth century date, and the surrounding ancillary buildings, steading and field enclosures.

Unish is situated near the tip of the Waternish peninsula. The rectangular-plan, two-storey house measures 12.5m E-W by 6.7m N-S over walls 0.6m thick. It is constructed in rubble bonded with lime mortar. Stone put-logs beneath the wall head would have been used for securing thatch. The house originally had a five bay front with the central bay being masked by a slightly projecting chimney stack

through which the main entrance was cut.

The hall would have been on the first floor and the dimly-lit basement would have held the kitchen and cellar. Two segmental headed fireplaces sit in the bases of the gables. Unish has undergone remodelling, probably by Norman Macleod about 1745. New windows were inserted to convert it to the standard three bay form, and a circular stair turret was added to the S wall.

The house is surrounded by the remains of small crofts and steadings. Historical evidence and stylistic influences indicate that it was probably built by one of the Fife Adventurers (a group of lowlanders who were encouraged by King James VI in 1598 to colonize parts of the NW coast of Scotland).

The area to be scheduled is irregular, measuring a maximum of 190m E-W by 165m N-S, to include the laird's house, steading buildings and enclosures, as shown in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as it is historically attested to be the earliest purely domestic, non-defensive, laird's residence in Skye. For its early 17th-century date and remote location, Unish is an ambitious and substantial dwelling which draws on more than vernacular tradition and reflects architectural types found on the continent and examples identified in Fife.

These influences suggest the builder was likely to have been a well-travelled, incomer landowner. The monument's importance is increased by its potential to provide material evidence for the study of Scottish history, the evolution of domestic plan-forms, land-tenure, the crofting system, rural economy and pre-Clearance settlement during the period of its construction and use.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as NG 26 NW 1.


Dr. Roberts, L. D. (1987) Unish House, in the Clan Macleod Magazine, 302-306, Vol. 8, No. 53.

Macleod, H. Ruairidh. (1987) Lairds of Unish, 307-310, Vol. 8, No. 53.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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