There were the gentlest of breezes ambles down the folded glen, with the calming swoosh of gentle waves accompanied by the twittering of birds as the soundtrack for life, and the soft light gold sand is empty even of a single footprint. There they choose to build their home.
I stood where once they lived and suddenly, and for the first time, living in Iron Age times appealed so. A roof for shelter from the storm, peat to cut for warmth on the colder days, a place to sit and read and draw, to think and dream, to simple be.
Then voices drifted over the curving dunes, strangers coming to invade this new found sanctuary and suddenly the beauty was muddied. The unexpected raids from both neighbour and stranger, taking what little extra I might have had or killing what stock I might own. The damp and cold during the dark long winters. The daily search for food, the illness, the pain, the smoke filled house stinging eye and throat, the lack of indoor plumbing!
I think I will stick to the 21st century after all.
We have just returned from the charms of the Isles of Lewis and Harris and I tell this tale of the Iron Age House at Bostadh on Lewis’ north western coast because it echos so much of the Isles effect on me.
When we visited the Orkneys last year they captivated my heart almost the second I set my foot upon its soil and I still long to return knowing that it will be like going home. These Isles, however, were different they slowly seduce. Being a much larger land mass so many of their gems are hidden waiting to be sought out. Rarely are the real jewels seen from the long straight roads or twisting tracks through craggy outcrops, for them you have to get out and walk on springy earth and become part of it all. From mile long beaches where the Atlantic kisses the sand and sharp cliffs where the waves crash down and the birds swirl in the dark sky scrapers while the lighthouses stand proud; to the mountains and their infinity lochs; to the moors and the fields of peat with the heather still brown while the gorse’s golden flowers shine brightly; to the stone circles and blackhouses; to the expansive skies all shades of blue during the day while purple and orange dances across them as the sun finally fades. The air so still that the change of how a wave lands on the beach rings like a warning bell raising me from my chair and book to investigate. A place were time seems to stand still to such an extent that before one is even aware of just how long the frolicking lambs have grabbed ones attention the dinner is stone cold. A place of promise, of wonders and delights and yet also place of sadness where shadows also seem about to pounce. A place which mystifies, intrigues and captivates. A place capable of both winning and breaking my heart.