I’m really pleased to have been part of this project for Historic Environment Scotland.
I was asked to write two poems – in Gaelic and Scots – that explored the cultural history of some of the buildings under the organisation’s care.
I looked at: Dunstaffanage Castle, where Flora MacDonald was held for a period; Kildrummy Castle, where the Earl of Mar spent many nights deciding which side he should join – the Jacobites or the Government; Ruthven Barracks, that were built to subdue the Highlands in the years after 1715; Urquhart Castle, that was captured and held by Robert the Bruce during his march through The Great Glen; Crossraguel Abbey, where the Benedictines stayed for long centuries; Kisimul Castle, in the bay where emigrants from Barra and Uist left for Canada; Elgin Cathedral, destroyed during the time of the Reformation, and; Broughty Castle, where General Monck, commander-in-chief of the Commenwealth Army in Scotland, grew tired of war after seeing the behaviour of his soldiers when they took Dundee.
Here’s how I wrote the two poems, side by side:
|Òran nan Clachan
Cha bhalbh na clachan seo idir – èist.
|Sang ae the stanes
These stanes arna soonless – hearken.
And here’s how they were used in the film:
|Dunstaffanage Castle||Cha bhalbh na clachan seo idir – èist.
Tè òg uasal le blas Eilean Uibhist,a’ seinn le bròn ann an Gàidhlig bhinn,
glas-làimhe dhubh air a craiceann fionn.
|Kildrummy Castle||Lang disputations on lang cauld nichts,
ane mickle laird sweir tae chuse whit’s richt.
|Ruthven Barracks||Òrdughan, peilearan, rianan catha,|
|Urquhart Castle||ceòl na caismeachd, an rìgh anns a’ bhlàr.|
|Crossraguel Abbey||Prayers tae Goad and benedictions.|
|Kisimul Castle||Bàta fo oiteag agus an caisteal air a chùl –
teaghlaichean a’ fàgail airson tìr nan craobh.
|Elgin Cathedral||Grace aw smattered, in years ae destructioun.|
|Broughty Castle||A general seeck scunnirt ae bluid awthegither
His lugs fu the screichs ae bairnies an mithers.Thae soons ar aw kistit in ilka floor ablow.
Touch thaim. Ye maucht fin thair echo.