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A Crofter's Life in Shetland (clip 3)

Transport of peat by Shetland pony

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An early documentary by filmmaker Jenny Gilbertson, one of Scotland's film pioneers. It records a traditional way of life which was about to disappear for ever and captures the annual farming year of the crofting communities of the Shetland Isles. The film features the islanders at work on their crofts, gathering peat, fishing and the celebrations during the "Up Helly Aa" festival.
In this clip we see see men and women loading dry 'peats' of cut peat onto Shetland ponies to be transported back to the crofts.

Questions & Activities


  • What is peat and what was it used for? What is a "sheltie"?
  • In what other ways were horses used in farming?
  • Do you think these animals were well treated?
  • Why are Shetland Ponies so small?
  • What do you notice about the landscape?


Research Shetland's position in relation to main land Scotland.

Write a story from the pony's point of view. (See 'Haki The Shetland Pony' by Kathleen Fidler)

Listen to the music of Ally McBain and Catriona MacDonald or Fiddlers Bid. Choose a piece of music which you think would match the film.

Clip Details

Record Id 007-000-000-171-C
Resource Rights Holder Courtesy of The Gilbertson Family
Project Ref 0981
Date 1931
Genre Documentary, Amateur, Women Filmmakers
School Subject Economic History, Social History, Geography
Subject Matter Rivers and Coasts
Who Jenny Gilbertson (director)
Where Shetland
Event Working life
Attributes Black and White, Silent
Clip Length 1:46
Film Length 46:00