THE VILLAGES / NA BAILTEAN
History and information / Eachdraidh agus fiosrachadh
HIGH BORVE / AM BAILE ÀRD
As the name suggests, High Borve is situated on a high elevation, the literal translation of the Gaelic being “The High Village”. In crofting law, it is called “Mid Borve” and this gives a clue as to its whereabouts, being part of the larger village of Borve.
There were three families living in the old Mid Borve (an t-Seann Bhaile) and they were forced to go to Canada in 1851, sailing from Stornoway against their wishes. It is not known why the village was depopulated and repopulated again very soon after. Part of the village is called “Am Baile Meadhanach” and was at one time part of Galson farm. The remains of those houses could be seen up until about fifty years ago.
The coast here is very broken and difficult but at one time two boats fished for cod and ling which were plentiful and which would then be salted away for the winter. The seas were often rough but families had to have some protein in their diet along with the potatoes and oat and barley bannocks.
In the mid 1940's, another age old custom was abandoned - that of the women and children taking the cattle to the shielings on the moor. There were 7 in all which were three miles away in a glen called “An Gleann Ruadh” (Russet Glen).
At one time, there was a small shop by the roadside and also a petrol pump (now dismantled) that had to be arm cranked. Although private cars were few and far between, petrol was required for the fledgling "Galson Motors" which was set up around that time.
An arched stone bridge crossing the Borve river between Borve and High Borve has now been superseded by a new bridge complete with pavements, lighting and safety rails. In the past, there was so little traffic on the road that the young people’s favourite dancing platform was on the bridge, making use of the shelter its sidewalls provided for them.
Mar a tha an t-ainm a’ moladh, tha Am Baile Àrd suidhichte air sealladh bho shuas, is a’ Ghàidhlig a’ ciallachadh gu litireil “The High Village”. Ann an reachdas chroitearachd, ’s e “Meadhan Bhuirgh” a th’ air agus tha seo ag innse rudeigin mu dhèidhinn a shuidheachadh, mar phàirt den bhaile nas motha, Borgh.
Bha trì theaghlaichean a’ fuireach anns an t-seann Mheadhan Bhuirgh (an t-Seann Bhaile) agus thugadh orra falbh airson Canada ann an 1851, a’ seòladh bho Steòrnabhagh an aghaidh an càlach. Chan eil brath air an adhbhar a chaidh am baile fhàsachadh agus a lìonadh le sluagh a-rìthist cho luath. ’S e “Am Baile Meadhanach” a th’ air pàirt den bhaile agus air aon àm, bha e na phàirt de thuathanas Ghabhsainn. Bha iarsmadh nan taighean iad seo lèirsinneach gu ruige mu leth-cheud bliadhna air ais.
Tha an costa air leth briste agus duilich an seo ach aig aon àm, bha dà bhàta ag iasgach airson trosg agus cìlean, a bha pailt agus a bhiodh air an sailleadh agus an cur air falbh airson a’ gheamhraidh. Bha na fairgeachan garbh gu tric ach dh’fheumadh grunnan-feòla ann an dòighean-ithe nan teaghlaichean, cho math ri buntàta agus bonnaich eòrna is coirce.
Anns na dà-fhicheadan, sguireadh seann chleachdadh eile – gun toireadh na boireannaich agus a’ chlann an crodh do na h-àirighean air a’ mhonadh. Bha seachd ann uile gu lèir a bha trì mìltean air falbh ann an gleann air a bheil “An Gleann Ruadh” (Russet Glen).
Aig aon àm, bha bùth beag ri taobh an rathaid agus cuideachd pumpa peatrail (air a thoirt às a chèile a-nis) a dh’fheumar obrachadh le gàirdean. Ged a bha càraichean air leth gann, dh’fheumadh peatrail airson a’ ghnothachais ùr “Galson Motors” a chaidh a chur air chois mu thimcheall air an aon àm.
Bha drochaid chloiche bhoghaichte ann a bha a’ dol thairis air an Abhainn Bhuirgh eadar Borgh agus Am Baile Àrd ach thàinig tè ùr na h-àite aig a bheil cabhsairean, soillseachadh agus croiseidean sàbhailteachd. Anns an aimsir a chaidh seachad, cha robh de thrafaig air an rathad gum b’ e an drochaid an t-àrd-ùrlar dhannsaidh a b’ fheàrr leis na daoine òga, is bhiodh iad a’ cur feum air an fhasgadh a thug a bhallachan dhaibh.
HIGH BORVE - HISTORY / AM BAILE ÀRD - EACHDRAIDH
The village is populated mostly by descendants of people who were evicted from their homes in Reef, in Uig, in 1851. These were related Maclean, Mackenzie and Matheson families and they made up six of the crofting families, out of a total of nine crofts. In the year 1863, one family of Macleans (four adults and one child) and a family of Mathesons, (two adults and four children) emigrated to Canada. When the Matheson croft was vacated it was then tenanted by a Mackay family from Galson. When these families were evicted from Reef the men were ordered to make their way by sea to High Borve and the women and children, with their meagre belongings, had to go by horse and cart, along what would then have been merely a track.
These families would have been grateful to be allocated crofts, despite the fact the land was very different from what they had in Uig. Most of the crofts are on a steep gradient and each croft is scattered in about half a dozen different places of varying sizes.
The ninth croft has a different background. This family of Morrisons arrived in 1866, from the island of Scarp in Harris, via Ballantrushal. This was a blacksmith's family and they operated as the village blacksmith until after WW2 when tractors took over from horses in croft work. The blacksmith would call in every morning at the nearest house to collect a glowing ember to light the fire, ready for the shaping of horseshoes.
Nearby was the village kiln which was abandoned after it went on fire once or twice. Down a steep hill by the riverside were two mills for grinding corn and their remains can still be seen today.
It is impossible now to picture the kind of village life then and up until WW1 there would not have been much change. The village was small yet it lost three servicemen aged 19, 21 and 23. In WW2 no one was lost from the village but people lost relations in other villages, so none were immune from the horrors of these wars.