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 History and information / Eachdraidh agus fiosrachadh


Upper Shader (Gaelic: Siadar Uarach) lies to the South of Lower Shader, across the Shader River from Ballantrushal. "Shader" is a version of 'saeter' which is old Norse for “farmstead”.


Early records of the Seaforth Estate show that in the 18th century and the early 19th century, Upper Shader was a farm held in joint tenancy. The names of these joint tenants are recorded in the Seaforth Papers at various dates from 1716 to 1814. The Ordnance Survey map of 1851 shows that the houses in the village were in a line on the moor side of the farm, in the area known as Cleide. The map doesn’t show any signs of settlement within the farm boundary.


In 1855 the farm was divided into over 25 crofts of about 6 acres each, and were given to individual tenants. The next 40 years witnessed a massive change in the housing of the village as most of the Cleide residents built new thatched houses on their own crofts. This is illustrated by the large scale Ordnance Survey map of 1895. The Crofting Act of 1886 gave crofters security of tenure and this undoubtedly was an impetus to this building work. Over a period of time, through sub-division, the number of crofts increased to the present 36 crofts.


As a crofting community, mills and kilns played an important part in village life. There were three mills on the Shader River to the east of the village and there was a kiln on croft number 16. As the village developed, three or four shops were opened. Two of these (Bùth Dhòmhnuill Maraid agus Bùth a' Chlodaidh) expanded their service to include mobile shops bringing groceries and other merchandise to the West Side area. Another business that flourished for an all too brief a time was the Blacksmith’s at no. 20.


The Church of Scotland and the Free Church of Scotland both have meeting houses in Upper Shader, beside each other on the right hand side of the main road coming from Barvas. For a good part of the 20th century, well-attended services were held on Sunday and Thursday evenings. Declining population and ease of travel to the parish churches in Barvas has meant that they are not well-used now.

A dh’aindeoin ainm, tha Siadar Uarach gu deas air Siadar Iarach, air an taobh eile de dh’Abhainn Shiadair bho Bhaile an Truiseil. Tha “Shader” a’ tighinn on fhacal Seann-Lochlannais “saeter”, a tha a’ ciallachadh “farmstead”.


Tha clàraidhean tràth Oighreachd Shìophoirt a’ sealltainn gur e tuathanas le gabhaltas co-roinnte a bh’ ann an Siadar Uarach san ochdamh agus tràth san naoidheamh linn deug. Tha ainmean nan co-ghabhaltaichean clàraichte ann am Pàipearan Shìophoirt aig iomadach ceann-là eadar 1716 is 1814. Tha Mapa na Suirbhidh Òrdanais 1851 a’ sealltainn gun robh na taighean anns a’ bhaile air a thogail ann an loidhne air taobh monaidh an tuathanais, san sgìre a tha aithnichte mar “Cleide”. Chan eil am mapa a’ toirt fianais air tuineachadh sam bith air taobh a-staigh crìochan an tuathanais.


Ann an 1855, chaidh an tuathanas a bhriseadh suas gu barrachd air 25 croitean mu 6 acraichean de mheud a bha air an toirt do ghabhaltaichean fa leth. Rè an ath dà fhichead bliadhna, thàinig atharrachadh mòr air taigheadas a’ bhaile air sgàth ’s gun do thog a’ mhòr-chuid de na daoine ann an Cleide taighean-tughaidh ùra air an croitean. Tha seo air a dhealbhachadh le Mapa na Suirbhidh Òrdanais 1895 a bha gu math mòr-sgèile. Thug Achd na Croitearachd 1886 còir-ghabhaltais do chroitearan agus bha seo na bhrosnachadh airson na h-obrach togalaich gun teagamh sam bith. An ceann ùine, mar thoradh air fo-roinneadh, dh’àrdaich an t-àireamh de chroitean gu 36.


Mar choimhearsnachd chroitearachd, bha muileannan agus àthan mar phàirt mhòr den dòigh-bheatha anns a’ bhaile. Bha trì muileannan air bruachain Aibhne Shiadair, gu ear air a’ bhaile, agus bha àth air croit 16. Mar a leasaich am baile, dh’fhosgladh trì no ceithir bùthan. Leudaich dhà dhiubh (Bùth Dhòmhnaill Maraid agus Bùth a’ Chlodaidh) gus bùthan-siubhal a ghabhail a-steach, a bhiodh a’ toirt ghròisearachd agus bathar eile dhan Taobh Siar. ’S e an gobha aig àireamh 20 gnothachas eile a bha a’ soirbheachadh airson ùine ro ghoirid.


Tha taighean-coinneimh aig Eaglais na h-Alba agus aig Eaglais Saor na h-Alba ann an Siadar Uarach, taobh ri taobh air an taobh deas den phrìomh rathad, a’ tighinn bho Bharabhas. Airson pàirt mhòr den fhicheadamh linn, bha seirbhisean air an cumail annta air oidhche na Sàbaid agus oidhche Ardaoin, dhan deach tòrr dhaoine. Ge-tà, le lùghdachadh àireamh an t-sluaigh cho math ri leasachaidhean ann an còmhdhail gu eaglaisean pharaiste Bharabhais, cha bhi na taighean-coinneimh air an cleachdadh gu tric an-diugh.


Barabhas Uarach


Baile an Truiseil


Siadar Uarach


Siadar Iarach


Còig Peighinnean Bhuirgh


Am Baile Àrd


Mealabost Bhuirgh


Gabhsann bho Dheas


Gabhsann bho Thuath


Dail bho Dheas


Dail bho Thuath












Còig Peighinnean Nis


An Cnoc Àrd


Port Nis








One of the joint tenants of the Upper Shader farm in the early 1800s was a man called Aonghas a Riaghainn – Angus MacDonald. It is possible he was the tacksman, as he appears to have been a very influential figure in the place. It is reported that he owned between 200 and 300 sheep and that many of the local population were his servants. After lambing, they would gather the sheep and bring the lambs to Angus for earmarking which he did by cutting the left ear of each lamb. That was his method of checking the number of lambs he possessed.


Angus had a large family and many people in the Upper Shader and Ballantrushal area can trace their ancestry back to him. He died in 1836 at the age of 55, and was buried in the old cemetery in Barvas. His grave is marked by a large headstone which was probably funded by descendants from America.


One of those first individual tenants was Angus Graham (1812-1896) who moved from Galson to croft no 1 Upper Shader. Angus was a noted strongman in his day and accounts of his feats of strength were often mentioned in the house ‘cèilidhs’ before the advent of television and radio. One in particular is worth mentioning here. One day on his way to Stornoway with a horse and cart, he came across six local authority workmen trying to move a big boulder that was causing a bit of obstruction on the roadway. He told the men to step aside and that he would have a go at moving it. This he succeeded in doing, moving it to the side of the road. In recent times, during a road widening programme, the stone was moved to its present location, painted white, and marked with a plaque to commemorate Angus’s feat of strength.


Another notable figure who was born in Mullach an Toll, at 22 Upper Shader, was the bard, Murdo Morrison (Murchadh Aonghais Dhòmhnuill or Murchadh a' Bhocs, as he became more commonly known). Murdo was born in 1884, the youngest of a family of seven. After working in Stornoway as a baker for about three years, he moved to Glasgow and eventually emigrated to Niagara Falls, New York, in 1911. He composed many evocative Gaelic songs extolling the virtues and beauty of his native Island. Some of these were published in 1923 in a book entitled “Fear Siubhal nan Gleann”. Songs like “Leòdhas mo Ghràidh”, “Clach an Truiseil”, “Slan le Leòdhas”, and others are still being sung by Gaelic singers to this day.


Like many other villages in Lewis, Upper Shader was greatly affected by the First World War. In August 1914, 59 men from the village were called up to serve King and country and 13 of these lost their lives. From the peaceful life of crofting at harvest time, within weeks these men were confronted with the horror of the battlefronts. In the sinking of HMY Iolaire on New Year’s Day 1919, two men from Upper Shader died in this tragedy - Angus Morrison, 31 Upper Shader and Malcolm Matheson, 10 Upper Shader.


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