Bell a’Phuill’s KailyardLike a modern allotment, a kailyard is a small enclosed space used for growing vegetables and herbs. Although the word kail comes from the Old Norse kál meaning cabbage, other kinds of crops were grown.
A kailyard is different to a garden. Gardens are ornamental, and only things that could be eaten or made use of would have been grown in a kailyard. The protection a kailyard gave to smaller crops increased the variety of the diet of the people of Auchindrain, as well as providing space to grow herbs for medicinal uses.
What we grow changes every year, but there may be potatoes, leeks, kale, carrots, herbs and soft fruit such as gooseberries – see what you can spot!
Bell a’Phuill (who lived in the adjacent house) would also have grown herbs, some destined for the cooking pot (like wild marjoram – known as Scots oregano), and others for medicinal purposes[caption id="attachment_22876" align="alignnone" width="533"] Freshly harvested potatoes.[/caption]
Bell might have grown hart’s tongue, greamh mac feidh in Gaelic, which means wild boars’ plant: the leaves were used in ointments for burns and scalds. She may have also grown or gathered meadowsweet – Crios Chuchulainn in Gaelic, which means Cuchulainn’s belt. It was used for relieving headaches (the first aspirin was derived from the salicylic acid it produces), and for treating sores and ulcers.
Although each house had a kailyard, a single piece of ground was sometimes divided and shared between two or more dwellings. You can see this in the East Township, where at one time the kailyards for three houses sat together on top of a flattened-off glacial mound behind Martin’s House. The turf and stone walls that surrounded them provided shelter from cold winds and protection from hungry animals.
Sheep clipping at Bell’s Kailyard, around 1959.
Sometime after she died in 1915, the walls of Bell a’Phuill’s Kailyard were altered to create a dipping and clipping fank. They were restored to their original form in the 1970s.
You will find other kailyards across the township, and you can sample their produce in our tearoom. We like to think our soup is as good as anything Bell a’Phuill would have made – maybe better!
To look at a recipe for traditional Scotch Broth, something Bell may have cooked over her fire, click here.