Rodel, Harris

RCAHMS Outer Hebrides, Skye and the Small Isles, No. 111. For an excellent drawing see Steer and Bannerman, Fig. 25 p 181.
Within St Clement’s Church, Rodel, is an elaborate wall-tomb for Alexander Macleod of Dunvegan. It is dated 1528 and one of the panels depicts a West Highland Galley. This carving is by far and away the most detailed representation we have and an invaluable source of evidence. It is also of great beauty. Unfortunately it was damaged some years ago but the RCAHMS can still provide photographs of how it once looked.
Points to note:
a) Hun-bora or expanded wooden bole at top of mast. There was a hole through the middle of it for the halyard. It also acted as a seat for stays and ropes.
b) 17 oar-ports so 34 oars in total. Oar-ports have slits aft for the blades of the oars when these are shipped. Compare the photo of the ‘Aileach’.
c) Reefing-laces may be visible on the sail.
d) The forestay presses against the sail from behind.

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