Our website

Visit our website at www.arran-campsite.com
and our Blog of our
"World tour of Scotland" at www.nigelandkathyinscotland.blogspot.com

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

There are more Questions than Answers

The winter months are a time when I enjoy thumbing through Arran walks guides to pick out some new routes. I always like to have something of historical interest on my walks, and on Arran that’s not difficult.

You are never far from the past on this island with its hillsides that positively bristle with prehistoric standing stones and the remains of ancient chambered cairns. You sometimes have to do a bit of hunting for them though; they’re not publicised and packaged up, but then again, nor do they have entrance fees. The guidebooks and the Isle of Arran Heritage Museum are good places to seek inspiration.

On Arran, you can trail your fingertips softly across stones shaped by people with flint tools 4,000 years ago. However hard you try to visualise the particular hand that shaped the stone and the intent, individual face concentrating on the task in hand, they stay tantalisingly beyond reach, but it still feels like a connection across the centuries. No doubt their genes live on in some of the families that remain on the island today. Coming from the Yorkshire coast, it is unlikely that my ancestors set foot on the island, but you never know; jet, maybe from Whitby, has been found in the prehistoric landscape at Kilmartin, just north of here over the Kilbrannan Sound. Humans were designed to travel the face of the globe it seems,

The photos show some rock art of 4,000 years ago in a wood near Brodick. The symbols are known as cup and rock marks. No one knows for sure what they represent. To me, they echo the design of stone circles with their rings within rings, often situated close to river valleys. I like the theory that it all symbolised the womb of mother earth, to which the dead were returned in foetal positions.

I recently met a man from New York whilst having a cup of coffee in the Stags Pavilion who informed me he was a leading expert on ancient history and was currently preparing a lecture on whether it’s correct to have the prefix  Mac or O before Scottish names e.g. MacDonald / O Donnell. He also claimed to know the exact reason for cup and ring marks.

Wait for it!

According to him, prehistoric woman discovered the secret of growing giant vegetables. She planted them on rocks in order to replicate drought conditions, which made the tubers work harder to find water, growing huge in the process- the cup marks being the dints made by these supersize vegetables.

I think I met an expert in Tall Tales.