Valtos (from the Norse vald hus, house of one in power) is a large and well-populated village on the Valtos peninsula. The main settlement was once on high ground overlooking Cliff bay, where there is archaeological evidence and local knowledge of a temple and burial ground, castle and smithy. It is said that around the end of the 18th century, a bad storm wrecked all the village boats, and so the decision was made to shift the houses closer to the boats. The growth of the fishing industry and the establishment of a pier and curing house led to the focus of the village moving downhill towards the sea, on relatively sheltered water across from the island of Pabbay.
Cottars’ houses remained at Reithmir near the top of the hill but the crofts were initially lotted circa 1850 along lines drawn from a point on Pabbay, and so crofts 1 to 34 consisted of long narrow plots about half a mile in length, radiating uphill from the shore. Most cultivation was carried out on the flatter ground at the top and bottom of the crofts. Subsequently the crofts were divided, exchanged and merged with the result that the croft numbering is notoriously complex in Valtos.
Crofts 35 to 39 are in the glen at Cliff.
Several families from Valtos and other parts of Uig emigrated to Canada in 1851 on the Marquis of Stafford.
A smithy was located near the pier and there were meeting houses on the pier and at the top of the village. The school was above the village, overlooking Cliff Bay. The old cemetery is situated close by, on or near the site of the temple and ancient burial ground, and a newer cemetery opened in the 1960s on slightly lower ground.
Valtos should not be confused with the settlement of the same name in the Trotternish peninsula, Skye.
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