Friday, 4 October 2013

The Layered Landscape

The Mythic Galloway walk went well, 14 intrepid cliff walkers in a bracing wind and sunlight that turned the sea occasionally to pulses of silver. We walked from St Ninian's cave to Isle of Whithorn via Burrowhead.
Amazing such layers of occupancy in a landscape that looks deserted, but in truth this coastline was once one of the hubs in a bewilderingly busy trade network. Just a handful of miles away is the Isle of Man, the north of Ireland, north Wales, the Inner Hebrides. In fact, I suppose, the coming of internal transport systems like roads and later railways destroyed the place's importance. Chris who was leading the walk talked about the amount of Welsh sandstone that was used in Medieval buildings here- because it was easier to transport sandstone by sea from Wales than it was overland from Dumfries.
In Burrowhead, signs of a complex layered occupancy. Viking place names, Scottish promontory forts, the wall of a medieval tower, World War 2 huts from an extensive anti-aircraft training facility that later became a Polish re-settlement camp, and now a Caravan park. Add to that the dream landscape, the old tale recorded from an eyewitness in 1820, that at Burrowhead the fairies had said their last farewell to Scotland, and the fact that on this spot the Wickerman had been burned in the film of the same name, a cult classic that has in turn spawned many stories and myths. Throw in the actor James Robertson Justice rampaging through the area before the war with his giant punt-gun and dynamite and you have an idea of the richness and complexity of the myth landscape!
It's a reminder of how difficult my job's going to be. Remember, any stories or tales or comments, write to this blog or
Word or phrase of the day? "A hinging ee".
As in "he's got a hingin ee for her" - meaning a slightly covert and unfulfilled fancy for a girl. (Galloway Arms Wigtown, 3rd October)

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