John Armstrong has worked as a herd on the hills near Langholm for 46 years. Part of his wage for this work is the use of a peat hag on Middlemoss which lies to the east of Langholm on the road to Newcastleton.
In May 2012 John spoke to Mairi Telford Jammeh about his work as a herd and about peat cutting and gathering. Here a brief account is given drawing on John’s words which can be heard at our Study website.
John Armstrong standing on Middlemoss with spade.
The Sources in Local History series was created by Professor Alexander Fenton, former head of the School of Scottish Studies, University of Edinburgh, and founding director of the European Ethnological Research Centre. His aim was to publish and promote research into the diaries, account books, letters, journals and other ‘ego-documents’ of individuals from all walks of life, but in particular ‘those holding lowlier positions in the world – in other words, the great majority’. Six volumes were published between 1994 and 1997 making available a range of original documents from the diary of an Orkney farmer, 1766-76, to that of a Dundee millwright, 1864-65.
Such documents are a rich source of information for local historians and ethnologists – they not only allow the voice of the private individual to be heard, but also offer information about everyday life not often found in other historical records.