Back and Pony Creels of the Highlands and Islands

John Gillies with his sons Callum and Ian, carrying peat creels near their home on Eilean Fladday, off Raasay. Gairloch Museum and ArchiveThe creel Creel(Gaelic cliabh) is a general term covering several forms of Scottish (and Irish) baskets. In this section we are talking about back creels and pony creels, which are sometimes just referred to as 'creels'. The design of back creels varied but can be divided into two main types, the east coast fish wife's back creels and creels used in the Highlands and Western Isles for carrying among other things, peat, potatoes and seaweed. The pony creels were of similar construction but used as paniers in the Highlands and Western Isles. These creels used in the Highlands and Islands were made with a an open ‘band’ mid-way up the side, called the briagan or breugan, which may be used for a strap to help carry it, or for helping someone mount the creel on the back.

An Eriskay creel

Eriskay is a small island off the tip of South Uist, Outer Hebrides. Lise Bech and Kate Sankey made two creels reconstructed from an original Eriskay creel. This creel was a 20 stake creel and had a simple mouthwale start as …Continue reading “An Eriskay creel”

Creels of Lewis. A comparison of techniques and materials.

Detail of creel, cane and willow, Ness, Lewis

Westside creels (Shawbost, Barvas, Tolsta Chaolais) Donald Macarthur of Shawbost taught me creel making and his creels are based on his father’s methods. See ‘How to make creels’ Malcolm Macarthur was the last professional creel maker on the island. Although …Continue reading “Creels of Lewis. A comparison of techniques and materials.”

Gallery of Back and Pony Creels from the Highlands and Islands

Archie MacEachern, Kinsadel, Arisaig c 1910, carrying seaware. Scottish Life Archive

A collection of archival images of creels in use as well as creels presently in museum collections

What we know about back and pony creels of the Highlands and Islands

John Gillies with his sons Callum and Ian, carrying peat creels near their home on Eilean Fladday, off Raasay. Gairloch Museum and Archive

In the Highlands and Islands creels enabled people and ponies to carry peat, seaweed, potatoes and other produce across rough ground that wheeled carts were not able to access. Usually made of willow, but sometimes with heather, they were made …Continue reading “What we know about back and pony creels of the Highlands and Islands”