Ice House

An Ice House is a building or structure used to store ice throughout the year and were commonly used before the invention of the freezer or refrigerator.  Some Ice Houses were buildings with various forms of insulation and some were underground chambers. These were mostly man-made and close to natural water supplies such as fresh water lakes, rivers and ponds.

During the winter, ice would be cut from the frozen lakes, rivers and ponds and stored in the Ice House and packed with insulation such a straw or sawdust.  The ice would stay frozen for several months and quite often, depending on the quality of the Ice House until the next winter. The main use of the ice was during the summer months when it would be used to cool drinks, store food, or to make ice cream or other desserts.

Ice Houses were introduced into Britain around the 1660’s and numerous designs and types exist. They were commonly constructed brick lined dome shaped buildings with the significant part being underground. It is recorded that travellers to Italy saw ice being stored in caves by peasants for preserving food and this resulted in the idea being brought back to Britain.

In 1680, Lord Kilsyth made over the Kilsyth Estate to his younger brother William who, apparently, was responsible for constructing the ice house which is considered to be a rare and near perfect example of its type.  It is located in the Glen of Colzium on the west bank of the Colzium Burn. The ice house consists of a rectangular vaulted chamber constructed in stone with an entrance door and passage on the north side.  It has an access in the roof so that the ice could be lowered in the ice chamber. The floor is paved with stone slabs and is drained into the Colzium Burn.  Along side is a small game pit for storing game until it was ready for eating.

Four species of bats have been known to roost in the Ice House. The Ice House was thoroughly excavated in 1977 by Dr Hugo Millar and thereafter extensive repairs were carried out to preserve the structure.


If you can add more information to the above then the Kilsyth Community Council would be delighted to hear from you.