Into the Peatlands: A Journey Through the Moorland Year by Robert A Crawford (Birlinn)
The peatlands of the Outer Hebrides are half land, half water. Their surface is a glorious tweed woven from tiny plants, a habitat rich in wildlife, but underneath is layer upon layer of dead mosses transforming into the peat. One can, with care, walk out onto them, but stop and you begin to sink into them. For time immemorial the peatlands have been places – for humans at least – of seasonal habitation but not of constant residence.
In describing the seasonal processes of cutting, drying, stacking, storing and burning he reveals one of the key rhythms of island life, but his study goes well beyond this to include many other aspects, including the wildlife and folklore associated with these lonely, watery places.Widening his gaze to other peatlands in the country, he also reflects on the historical and cultural importance that peat has played, and continues to play – it is still used for fuel in many rural areas and plays an essential role in whisky-making – in the story of Scotland.