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Into the Peatlands Reviews

Into the Peatlands  by Robin A. Crawford

Into the Peatlands: A Journey through the Moorland Year

Robin A. Crawford

3.75 out of 5

3 reviews

Category: Non-fiction, Travel
Imprint: Birlinn Ltd
Publisher: Birlinn General
Publication date: 6 Sep 2018
ISBN: 9781780275598

A reflective and wide-ranging exploration of an organic material that has played a key part in Scottish life for thousands of years.

4 stars out of 5
30 Sep 2018

"Footprint that was a mum’s only memento of her son: Author gives a fascinating insight into the history of Britain’s peat-cutting families in new tome."

Crawford makes the simple rhythms of cutting, stacking and burning peat sound deeply, spiritually satisfying.


3 stars out of 5
23 Sep 2018

"On the whole, however, this book is a wayward attempt to tackle a difficult subject."

The publisher, Birlinn, has for a long time been producing beautifully designed books full of nuanced and intelligent writing. Into the Peatlands has the design. It is elegant and contains some fine illustrations, but the writing falters too often. This is a shame, specially as one senses there is a truly excellent book here, waiting to emerge from within its own pages.

4 stars out of 5
7 Apr 2018

"Murray relishes the heartwarming spectacle of desolation"

As a poet, journalist, teacher and Hebridean, Murray’s raptures are muted and he has a genuine, respectful interest in other people’s lives. Most of The Dark Stuff is based on interviews and conversations with moor-dwellers and historians. Moor history tends to be either sad or horrific: some of the bloodiest battles were fought on moors; deserters and non-conformists fled to them, prisons and lunatic asylums were built on their barrenness. Peat-blades slice into the skeletons of sheep and the mutilated bodies of prehistoric criminals... These bracingly dismal examples of moorland poetry are one of the delights of this lyrical ramble. A metropolitan reader might find them infectiously depressing, but Murray relishes the heartwarming spectacle of desolation... Murray, too, is ‘tempted’ to ‘preach the gospel of peat conservation’, but he is also sympathetic to islanders who resent official interference with their peat-cutting traditions, knowing all the while that, one day, the peat will run out, as it already has on the Aran Islands, St Kilda and Tiree.