Carting marram grass
Photograph of two crofters carting marram grass from behind Ben Hough in the 1930s.
Courtesy of Mrs Grace Campbell
The two men are transporting marram grass, known locally as bent or muran, from behind Ben Hough at the west end of Tiree. The dried grass is used for thatching roofs while the roots were used as a scourer for cleaning tables and floors.
The grass is cut by sickle or scythe between September and March, outwith its growing season, and is much harder work than cutting corn or hay. The longer the stem the better, as a more waterproof roof is ensured and less work required.
Muran thrives best in shifting sand and grows stronger after cutting. There is less on Tiree today than there used to be. This may be due to the use of fertilisers which encourage the growth of other grasses and the out-wintering of cattle which shelter in the dunes and trample and eat it.
Black and white photograph of piper Hugh MacArthur in 1944.
Piper Hugh MacArthur in 1944.