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Caithness Field Club Bulletin
1982 - October
GRAIN KILN FLOORS
Many pre-clearance farmsteads had an egg-shaped kiln for drying
oats, the heat and smoke from a peat fire in an adjacent room passing by a horizontal duct to the base of the "egg" and percolating through a vented floor into the grain. 1 have long speculated on the nature of the floor; cast iron is used by the splendid mill at Huna and Les Myatt describes a mild steel floor used in a rectangular kiln in the Western Isles, but both would have been beyond the means of most crofters.
Bobbie McLeod of Westerdale directed me to Achscoriclate1 by Loch More where a tall kiln still contains fragments of unglazed red pottery bricks pierced to allow the passage of smoke.
The brick is 49mm thick, of greater than 23Omm side length, and the base is recessed by a grid of 52 x 52 blackened cavities, from each of which sets of 4 or 5 conical holes penetrate to the flat top face where the diameter has reduced to 3.8mm.
A nearby millstone carries the number 1674; if this is a date I can hardly credit our brick surviving since then. If pierced red bricks were in common use the Field Club can surely find further fragments.
1. O.S. Ref: NDO81441