Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing under the Planning (Listing Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see 'About Listed Buildings' below for more information. The further details below the 'Address/Name of Site' are provided for information purposes only.

Address/Name of Site


Status: Designated


There are no additional online documents for this record.


Date Added
Local Authority
Orkney Islands
Planning Authority
Orkney Islands
HY 49558 42826
349558, 1042826


Late 18th/early 19th century with earlier-mid 19th century additions. Traditional single storey croft comprising long rectangular-plan range aligned E/W with small U-plan range/yard to rear (N) of E end. Wind threshing mill tower to barn; gabled porch additions to domestic sections. Coursed rubble. Coped gables to earlier-mid 19th century sections to W.

S (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: original (late 18th/early 19th century) section comprising house and barn to right. House (roofless/ruinous) to left; gabled porch (window to gable end) to outer right; entrance passage immediately adjoining house (entrances to both returns; timber door to that to right); entrance to house blocked; wall largely missing to left; window opening to remaining portion to right. Much enlarged entrance with inserted timber lintel to barn to right; 2-leaf boarded timber door. Open-sided yard set back to outer right; gable end of small byre forms opposite end of U-plan range, set back slightly from barn (approximately 1.5m to E). Later (earlier-mid 19th century; built in 2 separate stages) house and barn adjoin to left. House to outer left; gabled porch with boarded timber door to right of centre; window to left return; flanking windows set back. Barn set back slightly to right; flat-topped rectangular-plan breaking-eaves wind threshing mill tower projects to right; rectangular-plan recess to centre; entrance immediately to right; flanking cheek walls (that to left formed by right pier of threshing tower); large flagstone forms roof just below eaves level; 2-leaf boarded timber door (divided horizontally).

N ELEVATION: earlier-mid 19th century house and barn to right. Later lean-to (with corrugated-iron roof) to most of width of barn to left; blocked window and entrance; left return open; entrance to barn set back to left within. Rear wall of original (late 18th/early 19th century) house adjoins to left. Gable end of late 19th century outbuilding projects at right angles to left; entrance (wall partially fallen away to either side) to right of right return; later lean-to to most of gable end/projecting to right; window to right return; small lean-to dry closet (part of addition) set back to left return. Side wall of 2 small byres (slightly lower roof to that to right) projects immediately to left; muck hole at base to that to left.

E ELEVATION: gable end of byre projects to right; entrance with boarded timber door to left reutrn. Side wall of 2 small byre sections (slightly lower roof to that to left) adjoins set back to left. Gable end of original barn set back to opposite side of yard to outer left.

W ELEVATION: window to left of gable end of earlier-mid 19th century house.

YARD: comprises mainly small byres. E ELEVATION: short section to left; that to right set back; entrance to left. N ELEVATION: entrance to right. W ELEVATION: entrance with boarded timber door to right; blocked entrance to left.

Windows largely boarded up/missing. Underseamed flagstone roofs. Triangular overseamed flagstone roof to N pitch of barn. Gablehead stacks with band courses to either side (E and W) of earlier-mid 19th century house to W; cans largely missing.

Stone internal partition wall to remains of original house. Stone slab stall divisions to some of byre buildings. Other sections not inspected (2000).

Statement of Special Interest

A good example of a traditional Orcadian croft, largely unaltered since the latter part of the 19th century and retaining an intact wind threshing mill tower (the machinery is missing). Wind-powered threshing mills are thought to have been introduced to Orkney (to which they are peculiar) in the latter part of the 19th century. Porches with entrance passages providing opposing points of entry were useful when it was preferable to avoid a prevailing wind on whichever side. 'Swartaback' appears in its present plan-form (minus one slightly later outbuilding to the W side of the yard) on the 1881 OS Map.



1st Edition County Series OS Map, 1/2500 (1881); 'Orkney Wind-Engines: Drive for Threshing Machines' in VERNACULAR BUILDING 12 (Scottish Vernacular Buildings Working Group Journal, 1988) pp33-44; G Douglas, M Oglethorpe and J R Hume, SCOTTISH WINDMILLS - A SURVEY (Scottish Industrial Archaeology Survey, 1990) p108-09; P and A Newman ROOF TYPES IN THE RURAL BUILDINGS OF ORKNEY in Vernacular Buildings 16, (Scottish Vernacular Buildings Working Group Journal, 1992), pp 47-52.

About Listed Buildings

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Listing is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for buildings of special architectural or historic interest as set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings which are found to be of special architectural or historic interest using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Listed building records provide an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building which has been identified by its statutory address. The description and additional information provided are supplementary and have no legal weight.

These records are not definitive historical accounts or a complete description of the building(s). If part of a building is not described it does not mean it is not listed. The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site which is known as the statutory address. Other than the name or address of a listed building, further details are provided for information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland does not accept any liability for any loss or damage suffered as a consequence of inaccuracies in the information provided. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing. Even if a number or name is missing from a listing address it will still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing also applies to buildings or structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage (or land) of the listed building as long as they were erected before 1 July 1948.

While Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating listed buildings, the planning authority is responsible for determining what is covered by the listing, including what is listed through curtilage. However, for listed buildings designated or for listings amended from 1 October 2015, legal exclusions to the listing may apply.

If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the 1997 Act. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect subsequent legislation.

Listed building consent is required for changes to a listed building which affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. The relevant planning authority is the point of contact for applications for listed building consent.

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Printed: 05/10/2022 00:08