This film is part of Free

A Cattle Auction in the Hebrides

Folk of the Western Isles meet and drink at their annual sale of Highland cattle to the Scottish mainland.

1932 9 mins Silent


The self-sufficient residents of the outer Hebridean islands use hand tools from scythes to spinning wheels to work their crofts - but raising the rent owed to the laird requires trade with the mainland. Hardy highland cattle are their primary export product and the adorable furry calves are brought to auction. The sold cattle are driven to a steamer and begin a journey to the meat markets.

The Empire Marketing Board (EMB), which produced the film, was an organisation formed to promote goods produced in the British Empire and was an early adopter of the moving image as a tool for this purpose. The EMB Film Unit reared the British documentary film movement, the style of which is evident here in both the beautiful photography and the record of ordinary people's working lives.