In 1830', the time setting for me new novel, working title The Saga of the Lewis Chessmen, kelp production in the Hebridean islands of Scotland, had all but died out. But the previous century had seen it rise as one the major earners for the landowners, the lairds, of western Scotland. Harvested during the summer months, the crofters often spent hours knee deep in the freezing waters of the Atlantic, cutting and collecting before the tide took back the days income. Died on stone wall above the sea-line the kelp was burnt in kelp pits before being shipped to the industrialised south as ash, for the production of glass and soap. Whilst many a laird made a tidy profit from the industry the crofters rent security was tied to the amount of kelp they produced and they were forces to neglect other crofting activities such as cropping and milling oats and catching and drying fish, activities they relied on to see them through the long cold winters.