Stones of Orkney

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”

The Wizard’s Grave

 

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”