All about Peat

In the long evening light, I helped to restack part of the peat stack which had fallen over because the sheep that are currently on the croft had rubbed up against it.

Croft Peat Stack, 1
Peat stack at the croft. Peat is used by many villagers to heat their houses throughout the year. It is cut by hand on the moor each summer, dried, and then stacked for the winter.

Many crofters using a herringbone style pattern to stack their peats. The top of the peat stack is covered with the widest of the peats, so that the rain doesn't penetrate and the peats on the inside stay dry.

Croft Peat Stack, 2
Peat stack at the croft. Peat is cut in early summer and left to dry. Once dried, it's gathered and then stored in these stacks at the croft.

Crofters in Port of Ness cut peat from the Ness moor, which is located just beyond the small community of Skigersta, down the road from Port of Ness. The road ends and turns into a dirt track which continues on into the moor where the peat bog is. Apparently, determining where you can cut peat is quite a complicated matter. The people of the Ness area know where the peat bog that can be cut by Ness residents is located, and some villagers know where each resident’s allocated peat bank is. To find out where you can cut if your croft or house does not already have a peat bank allocated to it, you must ask around in the community until someone tells you where the right place is. Or, as one person explained, you can just start cutting somewhere, and if it’s in the wrong place, someone will come and tell you.

Peat Moor
The peat moor where Port of Ness villagers cut peat.