Romantic Ruins: The Lonely Abandoned Cottages of Britain and Ireland

(Image: Ross, cc-sa-3.0)

Ruined cottages can be found across the world but something about those of Britain and Ireland stirs the imagination. Located in this ancient and romantic landscape steeped in folklore, many fell into disuse centuries ago, the stories of their inhabitants long since forgotten.

(Images: Gwen & James AndersonWalter Baxter, Ross; ceridwen, cc-sa-3.0)

Characterized by crumbling walls and roofs that have long since collapsed, thousands of derelict structures are evident across the rural landscape – from small farms and crofts to lonely shepherds’ cottages and even entire villages abandoned due to the inherent bleakness of their surroundings and the changing nature of the times.

(Images: Walter Baxter; Peter HutchingsMike Baldwin; cc-sa-3.0)

But unlike other abandoned buildings which often blight the landscape, ruined cottages and tumble-down barns are a wistful reminder of a time when life, though tough, was more simple. Nestled among a patchwork of fields and dry stone walls, many are silent reminders of an era before the Industrial Revolution or the information overload of the 21st century.

(Image: public domain)

In addition to lone ruins, several entire abandoned communities lurk on Britain and Ireland’s wild periphery. Great Blasket Island off the coast of County Kerry (above) has been abandoned since 1953. Several years earlier it had been cut off from the mainland by severe storms, after which the Irish government could no longer guarantee residents’ safety.

(Images: Huge Miller, cc-sa-3.0)

Similarly, “The Village” on the St Kilda archipelago of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides was abandoned in 1930 due to a combination of post-war population decline, crop failures and the relentless weather. The ruined “Street” was built around 1834 to replace a more primitive medieval village (the remains of which can also be seen nearby).

(Images: Oliver DixonDerek MayesKenneth Allen; Richard Dorrell; cc-sa-3.0)

Many abandoned cottages and barns, often built from dry stone, offer shelter to livestock grazing on exposed hillsides or come in handy as re-purposed sheep pens. But most simply endure at the mercy of the elements, lonely and mysterious reminders of a rural past that stretches back centuries and beyond.

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