Rutter: Herring bone peat

Foresters would prepare boggy mountain-sides for planting by digging regularly spaced ditches nearly horizontally along the contours until they joined a main drain running vertically down the slope, giving the hill a herring bone pattern. Working in teams of three the first digger used a rutter spade to mark out the lines of the ditch; the second used a cross cutter spade to cut and prize the turf off; and the third would use a three-pronged ‘howk’ to toss the turves alternately left and right either side of the drain. The upturned peat turves would chequerboard the hillside, two lines above each drain, three lines below. When it came to planting the turves would be cut and a sappling planted in the centre.IMG_5651

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