Something else from Bast. It’s doing my head in, anyway, here we are. Do the picture thing as is the norm, a wee bit of Nick to end the night.
Hamish Angus Ross.
When I eventually did return to our bothey, it was not the bothey I remembered that welcomed me. What lay before me was a television crew; a bright yellow digger, complete with driver, who was digging shallow trenches across the places where our great hall had once stood; another trench across the memory of the place my Uncle and Aunt had lived; and lastly, most tragically, a trench through the middle of where I had been born, lived and fled.
The television presenter, a chap apparently named ‘Tony’, was discussing geophysics with one chap, pottery finds with another giving an approximate date of the village, and lastly a chap in a brown felt hat, straggly hair, a ‘Howard Green’ jumper of the sort worn by British and Australian soldiers, jeans and a set of heavy brown leather, much worn, lace up boots. The latter chaps most distinguishing feature, however, was a set of sideburns that had not seen a razor in years, and blew loosely around him; small tribes of “A” League Footballers could easily be lost amongst them. A dark blue Landrover 110 Defender was parked to the left of the remnants of my village, with a logo splashed across the bonnet in gold.
I watched, from a distance, and as the shadows began to lengthen, the television crew and workers packed their gear and left to which ever local watering hole they were camped in for the night.
Once gone, I had the place to myself for the first time in roughly 1700 years. Everything had disappeared, with the exception of the stones that were once the bothey walls of my long gone home. Sadly, even they were few and far between. The spade, wee trowel and short pry bar I had with me were enough to start my own dig. Not at out bothey, rather at the indent into one of the ‘Fury Knolls’ nearby. It was a medium sized earthen mound, its origins long forgotten, and well overgrown with heather. Today’s folk would likely call them ‘Fairy Mounds’, sad ignorant wretches they are.
Father was a great believer in removing from sight all that you don’t want ransacked by raider’s, as such he hid everything of value as far from home as safely as possible. Hence, I stood before a ‘Fury Knoll’, tooled up, and ready for work, praying that the real ‘Furies’ weren’t still guarding it.
Firstly I moved shovel after shovel of dirt, forty minutes, and a considerable amount of sweat later I hit rock. This stone turned out to be heavy and thick, yet well butted together, with slabs covering the top, bottom, and others forming foot high sides. My father’s great granite box buried, and now revealed, which, by appearance at least, had remained undisturbed since the time of its construction and burial. A theory proven true after much huffing and cursing five minutes later when I finally prised the top from it, tearing a nail in the process.
It was all there, and not one Fury, or Faerie, or Fairy, or whatever they called themselves these days did once interrupt me. Yet the wind had picked up greatly, and I believe those spirits of things long forgotten were about me still, there watchful eye unblinking.
On reburying the mound, and replacing the sods of earth strategically as possible to give it an undisturbed appearance as best I could, I made seven trips to and from my Landrover. Father had done well for himself in his lifetime, and amongst other things of incredible value, both of the time and of today, I suspected I was the only person worldwide to own a 1700 year old bottle of Scottish Whiskey, let alone the two dozen now stowed carefully in the back of my four wheel drive. Whiskey in hollowed granite bottles, complete with granite stoppers, and the whole lot covered in molten glass, as was the interior of the flask, granite being as porous as it is.
Once I was fully loaded, slowly creeping through the gears, I made my meandering way away from the television show dig site, blending in with the plethora of equipment left by specialist archaeologists, camera crews, plus the digging machines, both mechanical and man powered. Finally making it back to the open road, I had to swerve around a gaggle of onlookers that appeared to have snuck out from the local school for a look, with the notion of grabbing anything dug up and not bolted down.
Neither tears graced my face, nor frown creased it as I left. Not once did I look back at my original home, and I would never see it again, in this lifetime anyway.
My villages’ nearest modern location is that of Rhynie, Aberdeenshire, which is about a mile to the south east of what once was home. The name has changed, but the remains are still there. ‘Tap o’ Noth’ is the subsequent name for my wee burgh, it apparently became a fort after I left. I shall reminisce no further with these digressions.
The road and run to Glasgow was fair. Winding my way west then south for roughly 50 miles, taking the second exit at the roundabout and indirectly on to the A90. The journey completed upon following road signs the rest of my way.
The 160 odd miles I had just driven in a shade under 4 hours had originally taken me nearly 400 years to complete. Yet another slight against those before those of today.