Rothiemay: Retanach

Fir Candles

In the parish of Rothiemay, at the end of the eighteenth century, rosetty fir sticks, dug out of the peat - mosses, were dried and cut up into narrow strips for use as candles. The double-shell iron lamp with oil and rush wick was then rarely to be seen. In one moss in Rothiemay these fir stumps were generally found at a depth of four or five feet, and were discovered by probing with a sharp-pointed iron rod. Cut into blocks they were most valuable firewood, and even afforded sufficient light for the family. From strips of their long roots were prepared ropes for tethers. These ropes were much affected by the weather, becoming loose in drought unless kept moist to prevent what was called the "feasing out." The making of these ropes was a common occupation in the winter evenings in the farm and cottar houses.