The definition of peat is “organic soil that has more than 60 percent organic matter and exceeds 50cm in depth.” Here in the Outer Hebrides the depth of the peat can reach up to twenty feet. Peat originally formed here following the last ice age and consisted of the remains of dense woodland found here around 7000 years ago. The peat here today was actually formed between 4000 and 2800 years ago.
Digging peat has always been a community event with men, women and children – young and old coming together to help out. The process used to involve carrying loaded baskets between the moors and the houses, but tractors and other more modern methods have made the job easier.