Carved in stone

Two Scottish youngsters have had their poems celebrating Scotland’s natural heritage carved into Caithness stone and mounted in the newly-opened Scottish Parliament at Holyrood. One in English, one is Scots Gaelic and both remarkable – I hope they keep writing; if they can write so eloquently and movingly at this tender age I’d like to read what they write in later life.

By Robert Adam

Look. What can you see?

I see beauty in the lochs.

I see majesty in mountains.

I see legend in rocks.

And it is ours.

By Mairead F MacNeil

Beanntan Àrda

Fo cheò

Mar chaistealan glasa

A’ fleòdradh sa mhuir

(Translation – Towering mountains, Shrouded in mist, Like grey castles, floating in the sea)

Aren’t these beautiful? You can see this on the BBC Scotland news site. I liked the way Robert linked the landscape to our history; it reflects a very ancient Celtic attitude to the people and the land. Even in the medieval period this persisted – witness the number of site in Scotland named for William Wallace, from trees, and rocks to wells (I grew up a few miles from Wallace’s Well myself). It associates the hero with the land; they are part of one another, always. It also allowed people in a largely pre-literate society to physically celebrate and remember their champions.

Mairead’s imagery wonderfully evokes the magic and majesty of the Highlands and Islands. It conjures images of both natural rock in the cloud-covered mountains and the man-made stone-work of an ancient Castle, wreathed in mist (or in cases such as Stirling or Edinburgh the Castle and the great expanse of rock they sit atop are a part of one another – Scottish geology and Scottish history intertwined inextricably).