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Three views about the extraction of peat in the Shetland. Peat is a natural fuel, make from the decay of vegetation found in marshe areas. I had already seen it in the north of Scotland, but had the opportunity here to see how it is collected. Since peat is basically a kind of soft material accumulated in layers over the ground, it is first dug out by cutting brick shaped pieces, which are then left drying untill it can be burned. You can see here the trench made in the peat to extract the pieces, which are positionned of the right side of the trench. In worshop 1, a close up of the digger, showing the peat brciks in the foreground and the special tool used to cut the peat into bricks. In worshop 2, another digger taken elswhere a day before.

There is a full page on wikipedia aboy peat (see :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peat ) and some extracts of it:
Peat is an accumulation of partially decayed vegetation matter. Peat forms in wetlands or peatlands, variously called bogs, moors, muskegs, pocosins, mires, and peat swamp forests.
Formation
Peat forms when plant material, usually in marshy areas, is inhibited from decaying fully by acidic and anaerobic conditions. It is composed mainly of peat moss or sphagnum, but may also include other marshland vegetation: trees, grasses, fungi, as well as other types of organic remains, such as insects, and animal corpses. Under certain conditions, the decomposition of the latter (in the absence of oxygen) is inhibited, and archaeologists often take advantage of this. (...)
Under the right conditions, peat is the earliest stage in the formation of coal. Most modern peat bogs formed in high latitudes after the retreat of the glaciers at the end of the last ice age some 9,000 years ago. They usually grow slowly, at the rate of about a millimetre per year.
The peat in the world's peatlands has been forming for 360 million years and contains 550 Gt of carbon.
Characteristics and uses
Peat is soft and easily compressed. Under pressure, water in the peat is forced out. Upon drying, peat can be used as a fuel. It has industrial importance as a fuel in some countries, such as Ireland and Finland, where it is harvested on an industrial scale. In many countries, including Ireland and Scotland, where trees are often scarce, peat is traditionally used for cooking and domestic heating. Stacks of drying peat dug from the bogs can still be seen in some rural areas.
Peat is also dug into soil to increase the soil's capacity to retain moisture and add nutrients. This makes it important agriculturally, for farmers and gardeners. Its insulating properties make it of use to industry.
Peat fires are used to dry malted barley for use in Scotch whisky distillation. This gives Scotch whisky its distinctive smoky flavour, often called "peatiness" by its aficionados. (...)
During prehistoric times, peat bogs had considerable ritual significance to Bronze Age and Iron Age peoples, who considered them to be home to (or at least associated with) nature gods or spirits. The bodies of the victims of ritual sacrifices have been found in a number of locations in England, Ireland, and especially northern Germany and Denmark, almost perfectly preserved by the tanning properties of the acidic water. (See Tollund Man for one of the most famous examples of a bog body).
Peat wetlands formerly had a degree of metallurgical importance as well. During the Dark Ages, peat bogs were the primary source of bog iron, used to create the swords and armour of the Vikings. (...)

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Additional Photos by Emmanuel LE CLERCQ (emjleclercq) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2017 W: 62 N: 3115] (15780)
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