This conservation work may be applied over a variety of peat bog environments: woodland bog, raised bog and blanket bogs.
The variety of animals and plants abundant in the bogs is astounding; each one of them contributing to the biodiversity of this environment: sundew and bog cotton, amongst others. Sphagnum moss promotes the establishment of peat. Sphagnum moss allows the earth to maintain and disperse water. It is these acidic, nutrient poor environments, where sphagnum moss is abundant, that peat is formed.
If there is too much water in the peat from the moss however, at the time in it is lifted, it won’t be of a lot of use. Mòine dhubh, or black peat, is the best. It can be dried effectively. It is thick, substantial and full of vegetation that it, and will burn very hot for a long time. The place where peat is cut and lifted is called the blàr mòine.
An informant from Lewis said that a craos teine (or literally a gaping mouth of a fire!) is what is known by a very hot fire, burning with black peat. Mòine chailceach burns with a speckling of glowing embers, but without a flame. Chalky peat or peat comprised of clay is lifted from the deepest part of the bog.
The caoran is the lowest level of the peat bog. A cìb or the mòine chinn is the upper part of the peat which is half wet and dry. Is this likened to mòine plòiceach? The Fieldwork Archive tells us that that the kind of peat can be banked in the fire to keep an ember burning through the night is called mòine amh (raw peat), or mòine tasgaidh. Mòine bhàn and mòine chòsach (porous peat) are likened to eachother because they are easy to dry but they will burn far too fast, without much heat. In Kintyre, this kind of porous peat is called mòine phlòiteanach. This is too dry, without substance!
There is a wealth of vocabulary in the Fieldwork Archive connected to lifting it from the peat bank. I chose the information page from the informant in Kintyre, as it is less common to hear about the Gaelic from this area. But have a look at the peat-working pages from different areas and and you will see the hard but sustainable work which was involved in this environment, in order to manage this precious resource.
Another blog is needed to investigate the efforts of the people, not to mention the careful work that goes into constructing the peat-stack! But this is just a taste of the different kinds of peat that the folk make use of, whatever state they find it in. Get in touch on Facebook on Twitter.
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