Photo by Linda Williams
The caves are now filled with sheep, but not too long ago on the Isle of Arran, women called these caves home and it was where they raised their families. Robert the Bruce took refuge in a cave, resulting in the now famous “King’s Cave”. Famous or not, the road to King’s Cave or any other cave on the Isle is paved with mud and sheep poo and the adventure is not for the olfactory sensitive. The Isle of Arran Heritage Museum provides a display of cave life for those who want the education but who choose to forgo the cave dwelling experience.

The Machrie Moor stone circle requires some navigation through miles of sheep pastures. The first stones are about a mile into the pasture. The sight of the first stones are a little discouraging and might make some reconsider whether the trip in direct sunlight, with no walkway, through smelly sheep, an overabundance of sheep poo  and mud is rewarding.

Further down the muddy path lie the remains of a crumpling and long abandoned farmhouse. It is clear the fireplace was both a place where meals were cooked and where the family derived its only source of heat. It is a tiny room, scarcely large enough for a table and a bed. But it is the farmhouse that places the journey in perspective and alerts the visitor that this is not a Disneyland tour. It is a trip back into history, into another way of living, thinking and surviving.

The farmhouse is a reminder of how people once lived without television and cell phones and internet and electricity and running water and toilets and carpeting and window screens and heat and washing machines and cars and stoves. The people who lived in the farmhouse did not drive an hour to a building where they sat for eight hours in a climate controlled environment. They lived with the sunshine and the rain on their faces every day. On this land people performed manual labor instead of pushing pencils for a living. They killed to eat and pulled their vegetables out of their front yard.

The woman who lived in this farmhouse did not walk three miles on an elliptical; ending in the same place she began her walk. She walked two miles to the road to begin her walk through sheep poo; but she also walked through fields filled with flowers, up grassy hills and down moss covered rocks right next to the seaside. Her walk ended at a friend’s house, or school or church.

The family who resided in the farmhouse did not travel 3000 miles to see the Machrie Moor stones because they had a view that was quite intimate. Did they know these stones were 4000 years old? No doubt they did know the stones were associated with legends of giants and powerful men. Perhaps they considered the fact that they lived in a house and not a cave an indication that they were blessed by the stones.

The last set of stones are about a quarter mile from the farmhouse but these stones are by far the best and most overwhelming set of stones at Machrie Moor. While one might wonder what the occupants of the farmhouse actually knew about the ancient stones, it takes only a glimpse of the 18 foot high stone to make one realize that they are in the presence of something just a little bit special. To be certain, anyone who lived on that land felt exactly the same way.

 

 


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