Bent Grass/Marram as part of the landscape

Marram grass growing on machair, Isle of Lewis
Marram grass growing on machair, Isle of Lewis

The marram grass was cut from dunes. The photo shows marram grass, with the fine upright leaves, among the flowers of the machair. The machair is the fertile strip of land lying just behind the dunes, commonly on the west coast of the Western Isles. This machair is behind Riof Beach on the Isle of Lewis.

In the Uists, Kirkibost island became the place to go to harvest good quantities of marram. In Ness, Lewis, Eoropie dunes were a local harvesting place. Just off the coast of Great Bernera, Lewis there is a small island called Kealasay to which people went to cut the marram.

Alisdair Davidson told Julie Gurr how hard on the hands¬†marram was to cut and use because it was so sharp, ‘like a razor’.

This is one material that became unavailable to makers. During Victorian times on Orkney, people were stopped from harvesting the marram due to erosion problems.


Interview with Alisdair Davidson by Julie Gurr 2013

By Dawn Susan