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Kelp Rake
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Kelp Rake

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Kelp Rake
01050
Kelp Rake
2003
One of Shetlands first commercial industries was the burning of kelp to yield iodine and potassium for soap and glass manufacture. From the late 18th century onwards kelp would be cut, dried, and then burned in specially built kilns for export.

Once melted to a liquid mass it would be stirred using a kelp rake. This wrought iron bar from Whalsay is the lower part of one such rake. A long wooden haft would have been attached to the bar.

Kelp burning in Shetland was a social occasion too. After a hard days work the burners would gather to tell stories and dance to fiddle music, sometimes well into the early hours of the morning.
  • Shetland Museum
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