This article constitutes an ethnographic exploration of the salience of houses – both ruined and lived in – on the Outer Hebridean island of South Uist. While I describe houses as both sites of memory and sites of dwelling, my argument is that the latter – dwelling – encompasses and subsumes the former – memory. This argument is situated in a historical and political context where, despite over 4,000 years of human habitation, dwelling cannot be taken for granted. Current pressures of depopulation, unemployment, poverty, and ever‐tighter conservation legislation are perceived as continuous with the tragedies of the Clearances and beyond. The ethical and political claim for Uist as a place of human dwelling is made, both implicitly and explicitly, through a continuity of human occupation indexed by the material presence of houses.