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Knockrome and Ardfernal Crofting Townships

Just outside Craighouse where the Corran River flows under the Three Arches Bridge is a right turn from the main road to a beautiful part of Jura. If you follow this road you eventually end up on a wee hill at Ardfernal offering great panoramic views over the island. I want to share a beautiful panorama image of that view together with some information and historic photo’s from the place where I took it.

Panorama view looking towards Knockrome and Paps of Jura – Click for full panorama

Ardfernal, situated between the Small Isles Bay and Lowlandman’s Bay, and Knockrome, further down the hill, are crofting townships. There are several signs in the area explaining more about this interesting area:

“Today the Knockrome and Ardfarnal area remains a farming landscape with crofters growing silage for their cattle and sheep. The years have seen several changes in agriculture. One of these is the reduction in growing oats, barley and potatoes. This lack of cropping is sometimes blamed for the reduction in some wildlife such as Corncrakes, Lapwings and Black Grouse. These changes happen for many reasons such as social factors, financial implications as well as agricultural fashion.”

“Here croft sizes vary from 4ha to 20ha of in bye land. This is land suitable for growing crops and fodder. To ensure that everyone gets a share of the good land, fields are quite small and are scattered throughout the township. All have a share in the common grazing. In Knockrome and Ardfarnal there are 8 agricultural units running 170 head of cattle and 60 sheep. This is about one quarter of the islands agricultural output. Also living in the township are those who have come to retire and others who operate non-agricultural business.”

“A crofter is a small farmer who has specific rights under the Crofting Act of 1886. One of the benefits is that he and his family cannot be removed without good reason. Crofters are also allowed to build a house on their land.”

View of Ardfernal – In 1841 there were 23 families living at Ardfernal which had a population of 128 people. Apart from crofters the community sustained a weaver, a mason, a drainer, a carpenter, shepherds and a dress-maker. The population declined steadily over the years. Most of these houses are now in ruins.

The Whitehouse 1910 – Additional weather protection was sometimes provided by rendering the walls with cement and then painting with a wash of lime. This was the only cottage in Knockrome to be treated this way and so became known as “The Whitehouse”.

Harvesting corn at Knockrome just after the second world war. The men cut the corn with scythes while the women follow behind, bundling up the corn into sheaves.

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  1. I see you have a picture of the White House Knockrome 1910
    My Great Uncle and family spent part of the Summer of 1910 in the White House Ardfernal which he writes is a 2 story building I think owned by the McLeans he also mentions Crofter Malcolm, Mrs Buie, and Old Mhor . Does any of this make sense to you? Is there a White House in Ardfernal from that era?

  2. Yes, there is a Whitehouse at Ardfarnal too.
    Who was your Great Uncle?