Stories from Scotland

Stories from Scotland February 2014

Scotland is a country absolutely made for story telling.

Ever since people started to return there after the last ice age ended, over ten thousand year ago, a relationship developed between themselves and the landscape, which is both captivating and mysterious. It is hard to imagine what it was like for the first groups spreading northwards out of Europe into a virgin land, wiped clean by thousands of years of snow and ice. They were faced with the prospect of bears and wolves which had moved in ahead of them, and within a wild landscape of mountains, glens and rugged shores, they progressed from a nomadic life of hunting and gathering into a more settled life of homes, farming and fishing.

As you travel north and west through the highlands, you eventually come to the sea, which illuminates the landscape in an extraordinary way, and must have captivated the first people who saw it. They certainly didn’t leave in a hurry.

The very visible remains that litter this landscape are part of what physically attaches us to the people who arrived first. And the chain of history that brings us to the present day is full of adventure, bloodshed, intimacy and the mingling and clashing of cultures. From the Neolithic burial stones, through Iron Age Brochs, castles, empty ruined villages and crumbling Victorian mansions, there is a lot that is well worth imagining.

For me, it is the connectedness of people to the earth, rock and sea as well as their history, which inspires joining up the facts with my imagination. Writing about what actually did happen and what maybe happened, intermingled with my own ideas of fictional situations, seems like a natural way of representing my thoughts and the place itself.

As my own children grew up, partly in England and partly on the west coast of Scotland, I got into the habit of writing a story for them every summer. As they grew up, the stories developed and changed, but I have tried to stick to the feelings for place and culture, which are so strong.

I have written about places other than Scotland, but I am always drawn back to thinking about the sea and hills which I am so familiar with, and embarking on another story there. Every time I am away, I return with fresh eyes and see something new or in a different way, and perhaps this “yearning for the glens”, which is so universal for Scots scattered around the globe, is what focuses my mind. Right there on the landscape is the love and hate, hope, betrayal, jealousy, revenge, fear and anticipation as well as the joy and rewards that have been scattered across the centuries. A lot of them are surprisingly fresh in people’s minds too. What’s more, sitting high up on the moor in orange winter sun the view is the same as it would have been a thousand, or even ten thousand years ago. The broken promises, ancient pathways and lost secrets are all there though, waiting to be written about.

The aim for this website is to put my stories out there for anybody who is interested, and see where it takes me. The great Scottish oral tradition of story telling may be lapsing, but the availability of material on line is growing all the time, becoming a traditional method of communication in its own right. I hope this site gives you food for thought.


One Comment

  1. What a lovely site to discover this am.
    Like your intro. Very much.
    Look forward to reading this pm.
    Thank you both for a Fab relaxing evening.

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