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TITLE
Black Isle Heritage Memories - Alasdair Cameron (21 of 32)
EXTERNAL ID
ARCH_ALASDAIR_CAMERON_02_06
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
ROSS
DATE OF RECORDING
2010
PERIOD
2010s
CREATOR
Alasdair Cameron
SOURCE
ARCH (Archaeology for Communities in the Highlands)
ASSET ID
41086
KEYWORDS
audios
farmers
farming
agriculture
built environment
villages
dwellings
houses
farms
fertilisers

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In this audio extract, Black Isle farmer Alasdair Cameron talks about the use of phosphate as a fertiliser. He also talks about the salmon netting and the fishing rights at Eathie.

The audio recording was carried out as part of the Black Isle Heritage Memories Project, undertaken in 2009/2010 by ARCH (Archaeology for Communities in the Highlands). To find out more about the project, follow the link towards the foot of the page.

Transcription: (Interviewer: Cait McCullagh)

CM: And just, you mentioned phosphate slag, can you say ...

AC: Right.

CM: ... a little bit about that?

AC: It's to do with the, the original steel-making process with the Bessamer converter, used limestone as a flux to get rid of the impurities from the ore when it's molten, and, in doing so, the limestone absorbs all the impurities which includes quite a bit of phosphate and lots of trace elements which were, the whole package was quite valuable as a fertiliser. It was a black powder and it had a high lime content. It's main other component was phosphate and traditionally on farms it would be applied onto grassland and also onto land that was going to grow turnips. It was a very good slow-release, long-lasting fertiliser and I believe that some of the fields at Eathie are still quite high in phosphate because of the amount that was put on at that period. It's something that farmers really liked as a very good product. Occasionally some crops up from non-British sources where there is some more traditional steel-making processes going on.

CM: I was going to ask you about that because, from, just personally from an archaeological, environmental archaeological point of view, I was going to ask where the phosphate slag was being produced. I mean, presumably it's an industrial process by this stage?

AC: Yes, yes.

CM: and ...?

AC: It was. It's, it's to do with the, the valuable bit was getting impurities out of the iron ore and that the phosphate was the particularly valuable part, but it was also a lime equivalent so it regulated your ph as well and that generally good grass benefits from phosphate and limestone in one form or another. The farm workers didn't like it because it came in hundredweight paper bags that were a bit fragile and it was black and dusty and the dust got everywhere, so it was not a popular product. There is something that's almost an equivalent today that Forestry use principally called ground mineral phosphate which sometimes appears in a granular form but it's of limited use in agricultural situations because it is almost insoluble in the ph that you would find on a farm but on slightly acidic soils that you would get in forestry, it's extremely useful for encouraging tree growth. So, at one time the foresters would walk along the rows of trees with a sack on their shoulder and scatter a handful on every tree as they walked along, but the operatives hated taking it from the local railway station and moving it around because it's black and dusty and not very pleasant to handle, but it works on growing trees.

I'm looking at salmon netting and the fishing rights at Eathie. 'The perpetual rights to fish and net salmon on the sea waters of the Moray Firth' was quoted there and the rent includes the use of the fisherman's bothy, which is still there, and that 'in addition to the monthly payments provides for the delivery to the proprietors of ten fish per annum', and that, 'the Moray Firth Salmon Fisheries Company are the tenants from the 11th of February 1942 for the duration of the war at a special reduced rent of a hundred and twelve pounds per annum, plus the ten fish mentioned above.' The pre was rent was two hundred and sixty per annum. So, a war special. And that's all we have other than a list of the woodlands and details at Eathie.

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Black Isle Heritage Memories - Alasdair Cameron (21 of 32)

ROSS

2010s

audios; farmers; farming; agriculture; built environment; villages; dwellings; houses; farms; fertilisers;

ARCH (Archaeology for Communities in the Highlands)

ARCH: Black Isle Heritage Memories

In this audio extract, Black Isle farmer Alasdair Cameron talks about the use of phosphate as a fertiliser. He also talks about the salmon netting and the fishing rights at Eathie.<br /> <br /> The audio recording was carried out as part of the Black Isle Heritage Memories Project, undertaken in 2009/2010 by ARCH (Archaeology for Communities in the Highlands). To find out more about the project, follow the link towards the foot of the page.<br /> <br /> Transcription: (Interviewer: Cait McCullagh)<br /> <br /> CM: And just, you mentioned phosphate slag, can you say ...<br /> <br /> AC: Right.<br /> <br /> CM: ... a little bit about that?<br /> <br /> AC: It's to do with the, the original steel-making process with the Bessamer converter, used limestone as a flux to get rid of the impurities from the ore when it's molten, and, in doing so, the limestone absorbs all the impurities which includes quite a bit of phosphate and lots of trace elements which were, the whole package was quite valuable as a fertiliser. It was a black powder and it had a high lime content. It's main other component was phosphate and traditionally on farms it would be applied onto grassland and also onto land that was going to grow turnips. It was a very good slow-release, long-lasting fertiliser and I believe that some of the fields at Eathie are still quite high in phosphate because of the amount that was put on at that period. It's something that farmers really liked as a very good product. Occasionally some crops up from non-British sources where there is some more traditional steel-making processes going on.<br /> <br /> CM: I was going to ask you about that because, from, just personally from an archaeological, environmental archaeological point of view, I was going to ask where the phosphate slag was being produced. I mean, presumably it's an industrial process by this stage?<br /> <br /> AC: Yes, yes.<br /> <br /> CM: and ...?<br /> <br /> AC: It was. It's, it's to do with the, the valuable bit was getting impurities out of the iron ore and that the phosphate was the particularly valuable part, but it was also a lime equivalent so it regulated your ph as well and that generally good grass benefits from phosphate and limestone in one form or another. The farm workers didn't like it because it came in hundredweight paper bags that were a bit fragile and it was black and dusty and the dust got everywhere, so it was not a popular product. There is something that's almost an equivalent today that Forestry use principally called ground mineral phosphate which sometimes appears in a granular form but it's of limited use in agricultural situations because it is almost insoluble in the ph that you would find on a farm but on slightly acidic soils that you would get in forestry, it's extremely useful for encouraging tree growth. So, at one time the foresters would walk along the rows of trees with a sack on their shoulder and scatter a handful on every tree as they walked along, but the operatives hated taking it from the local railway station and moving it around because it's black and dusty and not very pleasant to handle, but it works on growing trees.<br /> <br /> I'm looking at salmon netting and the fishing rights at Eathie. 'The perpetual rights to fish and net salmon on the sea waters of the Moray Firth' was quoted there and the rent includes the use of the fisherman's bothy, which is still there, and that 'in addition to the monthly payments provides for the delivery to the proprietors of ten fish per annum', and that, 'the Moray Firth Salmon Fisheries Company are the tenants from the 11th of February 1942 for the duration of the war at a special reduced rent of a hundred and twelve pounds per annum, plus the ten fish mentioned above.' The pre was rent was two hundred and sixty per annum. So, a war special. And that's all we have other than a list of the woodlands and details at Eathie.