Collecting Seaweed

from the audio walk Machair | Linaclate, Benbecula, Uist

5 Stations
38:31 min Audio
3.25 km directions_walk favorite 1
Collecting Seaweed

As we walk along the coast, we learn about the historical and contemporary uses of seaweed as a natural fertiliser on the machair. In this section, we hear from islanders Roderick MacKillop, John MacIver, Angus MacKenzie, and John Morrison interviewed by Emily Lyle in 1977, who describe harvesting seaweed to fertilise soil on the machair. Local crofter Alasdair MacEachen and Matthew Topsfield provide insight into how these practices continue today. Accompanying these narratives, we hear a selection of puirt à beul (mouth-music) dance tunes sung by Kenneth MacIver (recorded in 1959), and the waulking song Mhòrag ’s na Hòro-gheallaidh (Morag and the Promised) recorded in 1973 that recounts a story of a love-lorn woman collecting seaweed performed by Christine Shaw and local residents from Bunavoneader, North Harris.

Photo: Collecting seaweed, Margaret Fay Shaw, c. 1932.

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