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Flaughter or Divot Spade

Some byre’s were attached to the end of a croft house and were used to store all sorts of cutting implements and tools. They were mostly handmade and used in work connected to working the land and keeping sheep and cows.

The main source of fuel for the crofting community was peat, an accumulation of partially decayed vegetation matter that forms in wetland bogs and moors, which was also used as a fertiliser. The peat was cut using specially designer implements including the flaughter, tucker and rutter.

The first tool to be used is the flaughter spade which is used to cut away the fibrous, mossy top of the peat bank. Once the top layer has been removed, cuts are made along the bank using the rutter, this determines the thickness of the peat to be cut. Lastly the tusker was put into action. The person using this tool would bear down with all their weight to actually cut the peat, they would then twist the tool to remove it from the bank and allow the thrower to throw the peat back onto the top of the bank for stacking and drying.

Cutting and collecting peat was very much a family activity, which sometimes involved the use of a large wooden sledge with metal runners which slid easily over the heather, transporting the peat to a waiting horse and cart.

Many countries exploit and sell their peat resources, especially Ireland, Scotland, and Finland. In these nations, blocks of peat are readily available as a fuel source, and peat is also sold in less compacted form for gardeners. The Flow Country, a large expanse of peatland at Forsinard, just fifteen miles northwest of Helmsdale, is the largest expanse of blanket peat bog in Europe and is a vital carbon store, that would otherwise be related into the atmosphere and contribute to global warming