Situated on the 59th parallel North, Orkney is as far north as Alaska, Quebec, and Norway. It’s a collection of more than sixty islands, twenty of them inhabited, linked together by ferries. Islanders from Rousay and Hoy come in to do their shopping on the mainland, in Kirkwall or Stromness.
The islands are surrounded by wind and sea and currents. The only trees grow in walled orchards or on carefully protected city streets. In the winter of 1850 a storm ripped the top off of a hill known as Skara Brae on the west coast of the mainland. Hidden underneath, almost perfectly preserved, was a Neolithic village.
Continue reading “Stones of Orkney”
At the very beginning of the 12th century two earls, cousins, ruled Orkney. Earl Haakon Paulsson and Earl Magnus Erlendsson did not share power well, and finally their friends forced them to call a peace conference and hash out their differences for once and for all.
The day: Easter Monday.
The place: Egilsay
The terms: two ships of unarmed men.
Continue reading “The Martyr’s Cathedral”
I forbid you, maidens a’,
That wear gowd on your hair,
To come or gae by Carterhaugh,
For young Tam Lin is there.
Continue reading “The Fairy’s Well”
True Thomas lay on Huntlie bank;
A ferlie he spied wi’ his ee;
And there he saw a lady bright,
Come riding down by the Eildon Tree.
Continue reading “The Rhymer’s Tower”
Last week I went to Melrose with the other USAC students and we visited the famed Melrose Abbey. The Abbey was founded in 1136 and was attacked multiple times during the stormy history of Scotland vs. England. It fell into ruin and disrepair after the Protestant Reformation when the monks were ordered to disband and abandoned the site. Alexander II is the only Scottish king to be buried at the abbey, although Robert the Bruce’s heart is also located there (the rest of him being interred at Dumferline Abbey). Only after returning to St. Andrews did I find out that Melrose Abbey is also the legendary resting place of the wizard Michael Scot.
Continue reading “The Wizard’s Grave”
After ten years of patiently insisting that I deal only in words, not visual arts, I am learning the visual art of photography. It turns out that you learn to take pictures the same way that you learn to write–by doing it consistently; photo after photo, event after event, failure after failure.
Continue reading “A Picture Worth a Thousand Words”