Photograph of a Tiree craggan.
Courtesy of Mr George Holleyman
George Holleyman, an archaeologist in the RAF police posted to Tiree during World War II, collected this small clay pot known as a craggan which he later donated to An Iodhlann.
Made by hand from local clay without the aid of a potter’s wheel, Tiree craggans were believed to have special curative properties, particularly in the case of tuberculosis of the lungs. The craggan was heated on the fire until very hot, removed with tongs and taken to the byre where it was filled with milk straight from the cow. This was heated again and administered to the invalid.
In a paper about Tiree craggans published in the journal ‘Antiquity’ in 1947, Holleyman wrote: ‘Each township had its potter who was always a woman…’ Flora MacNeill of Balevullin, who died aged eighty in the 1920s, was the last known craggan-maker on Tiree.