The Ruined Buildings
The ruin closest to you is building S, and may be the oldest of the six longhouses in the township. We think this because the walls are dry stone and not bonded with lime mortar as is used in most of the township’s other longhouses, indicating that it is older than them.
Originally this was a simple two-room loncghouse, with the house to the west and the byre to the east. You can still see the large stone slab in the middle of the floor which was a hearth. Tradition and memory has it that this building or an earlier form of it was home to the Campbell family who emigrated to Canada in 1805. Their descendants still consider Auchindrain to be ‘home’, and as with all our families, successive generations continue to visit to see where they came from. For much of the 19th century the building was then occupied by the Sinclair family, who had been in the township since before the Duke’s List of residents was made in 1779.
From the 1880s to the 1920s the building seems to have been used as a barn by the tenants who lived in what later became known as McIntyres’ House: first Colin Stewart, and then one of the many township people called Duncan Munro. The building was abandoned after the Munros moved away in 1925, and by 1946 was a roofless ruin.
Immediately behind building S is the ruin of Building T. We know and understand less about this building than any other in the township. The 1789 plan shows a building on or very close to this location, but census data from the 19th century does not make it clear if this was then a house. The 1871 map shows the building as being roofed, but it was in ruins by 1921.
The remains of the building consist of three separate compartments with cobbled floors, but these divisions may well be the result of alteration rather than how the building was originally constructed. The 1921 photograph shows the east compartment as containing the timber-built dry closet lavatory for the building later known as McIntyres’ House, and archaeological excavations in 2011 showed that this contained rotted-down deposits typical of lavatory sites. The 1921 photograph also shows a structure with a lean-to roof within the central compartment, which may have been used as a cart shed.
The ruin of Building U is behind and below building T, on the low ground beside the Allt a’Mhuileinn river. It is difficult to get close to, but you can see it if you go beyond the west end of building S and look down towards the river. Building U was a one-room house, very much like Bell a’Phuill’s House. The 1789 plan and 1871 map both show a building here, and the census data suggests that in the 1850s and 1860s it was home to a tailor called Duncan McKellar. He would have been one of the township’s cottars rather than one of the joint tenants who were farmers. As a skilled craftsman, he would have been a valuable asset to the community. A small place like Auchindrain could not have kept a tailor busy, and it is likely that he made up clothes for people from around the wider area. The township’s greatest-ever population was around 70 people in the early 1850s, but through history it was generally home for 35 to 45 people.