66636: Throwing off the divot

At the time when the boundary between Lewis and Harris was in dispute ‘throwing off the divot’ was a ritual performed, normally by the forester or sub-forester, as a warning to the occupant of the sheiling to leave and remove his cattle to their own pasture. The forester would take a divot or ‘turf’ from the roof of the sheilling and throw it to the ground. It was done in a non-aggressive fashion and one instance is recorded when the person involved (a Harris man) who … "after having done so, he ate and drank with the Lewis people in the shealling"….

If, after a few years, the common warning was ignored the chamberlain would sometimes order the sheilling be demolished, the roof timbers broken up and thrown over the boundary – the added threat that the leg of the occupant’s best cow be cut off and attached to a roof timber before it was thrown was normally enough incentive to vacate the premises.

Another common method of dealing with cattle that strayed across the boundary was to have one ear cut off before being driven back to its own pasture.

Record Type:
Story, Report or Tradition
Type Of Story Report Tradition:
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