Women used wicker baskets like this one to collect peat to use as fuel. Woven from withies (willow branches), the peat basket has a strap so that it could be carried on the back. Peat – an organic soil – was once the main source of heat in homes in the Western Isles. The basket is on display at the Blackhouse, Arnol, where a peat fire still burns in the hearth today.
Peat was cut once a year, in the spring. The blocks of soil were left to dry on the peat bank, then taken home. Women carried the blocks to the road in baskets, and a horse and cart took them the rest of the way. At home, the blocks were built into a large peat stack, for use all year round. There is a still a peat stack behind no. 42, which continues to feed the fire indoors.