Corrigall Farm Museum can be found on a very minor road off the A986 about two miles south east of Dounby on Orkney's West Mainland. It is well signposted from the main road, which is as well because the route is otherwise not obvious. What you find is a traditional Orkney farmhouse and steading laid out very much as it would have been in the late Victorian era. It's a fascinating place to visit, and it provides a particularly interesting counterpoint to the Kirbuster Museum, which is around five miles north west as the crow flies, though slightly further by car.
It seems likely that two of the farm's buildings were erected in the 1700s, probably to take advantage of the supply of water from the Corrigall Burn, which flows past the site. At this time the farm's livestock would have shared a building with the human residents. It was only a century later that a byre was erected to house the livestock: it's the building nearest the entrance from the road. The idea of restoring the farm for use as a museum was first floated in the 1960s, at which point it had stood abandoned for decades. The land and farm were subsequently purchased by Orkney County Council (as it then was) and work began to bring it back to use in 1979.
The buildings were all constructed using dry-stone techniques, meaning that no cement was used. One of the buildings, the house, has a layer of clay mortar between the inner and outer walls to provide better weather-proofing. All three buildings use flagstones for flooring and roofing. (Continues below images...)
The byre uses flagstones as dividers between stalls. The drain that runs the length of the centre of the building was used for exactly what you'd imagine it was used for. This drains into the midden at the lower end of the steading.
Running parallel with the byre is the house. This has been set up to show how its residents would have lived in the Victorian era, though it is actually much as it would have been when the last residents left in the mid-1900s. The house has four rooms, and as such was probably rather grander than many that served farms in Orkney at the time. The house was heated by burning peat, which would have been cut locally and stored. Peat is still used on the fires at the farm, and the result is a rather clinging and very distinctive aroma.
The furthest building houses the barn and stable. The barn is a reminder of an era in which grain crops, mainly oats and a type of barley called bere, were hand-harvested. After drying in the field, the crop was threshed, again, by hand, in the barn. Doors on opposite sides of the building allowed a through wind to blow away the dust or "stoor". Flat stones in the doorway were intended to prevent the end product blowing away too, and were called "thresholds" for that reason. At the far end of the barn is a kiln, in which grain was dried over peat prior to being milled into flour. The kiln is beautifully constructed of dry stones, perhaps a reminder that its builders were descendents of the Orcadians who built brochs on the islands many centuries earlier. Manual threshing only ended with the advent of threshing machines in the mid 1800s.