Back in March 2022 I was invited to talk with Helen Needham of BBC Radio Scotland about place, about time, and my approach to the landscape. We took a walk up an often over-looked hill in Aberdeenshire that has been the focus and the start-point of my writing about landscape and how it shapes us. In this episode you can join us as we explore the hill and its histories, and listen to the conversation that resulted.
I drove to Calanais in the rain, looking for the stones. I found them there, standing tall in the mist, like a distant dream I had once dreamt but long forgotten, a silent memory. Did they walk this way those thousands of years ago? What gods and spirits did they dream of; what lost stories did they tell? Where do they dream now, long buried in the ground? Across Loch Ròg to Kirkibost the sleeping woman lies, and the Shining One waits in the west. Too many stories wait here, commodified even now: unreal place, resting in its unknown truth.
I looped round Harris before another storm blew through, chasing echoes from the past: old saints and their stories; old places filled with memory, fleeting shadows from another time. Losgaintir shone with a cold brilliance against its ancient hills. Time slept, dreaming the ocean, its voice lost to the wind without echo or meaning. I drove back through a landscape of splintered rock as old as the earth, leaving the beach and its impossible confluence behind.