The History of Corrigall Farm

Corrigall Farm Museum: Then and Now

Old farm buildings were rapidly disappearing and there was a desire to preserve an example of these old structure for future generations. Kirbuster in Birsay was the preferred option, but it was not available to buy. In the 1960s the County Librarian, Evan MacGillvray, along with folklorist and historian, Ernest Marwick, identified the farm steading of Midhouse in Harray as a fine example which could be restored. It was not until 1979 that work began on making this happen.

At first it was suggested that it should be restored back to the way it had originally been built, with a central hearth in the middle of the room. This would involve demolishing the interior wall with fireplace. Bryce insisted that it should be restored as it stood, which is what happened 

A team of workers under the Manpower Services Commission carried out the work, supervised by a professional stone mason. The farmhouse, barn/stable and byre (cow shed) were sensitively restored to their former appearance. The round tower of the kiln at the end of the barn shows how grain was dried or malted to make ale. The buildings are filled with artefacts collected by Bryce for such a project, giving it that lived-in look.  

As there is more than one ‘Midhouse’ in Harray the name was changed to Corrigall, which was the name of the family who had lived in the house as well as being the name of the district in which it stands. It shows people what houses were like in the 18th and 19th centuries, when so many Orcadians left the islands to make a new life for themselves overseas.  

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