Bernie Bell: Bernie & Mike’s Road Trip – Spring 2017

Bernie Bell (small bear) and Mike go on a road trip

We are in Kilmartin Glen


Portal: my drawing of the image I was given in my dream (BB)

Thursday 27th April – Awake to a fine day.

Bernie shaken to see in Kilmartin guide book, a photograph of a carving on a Temple Wood stone of a design she had seen in a dream some months earlier – at the time, it had been impossible to place it, but here it was!

A day of rest.  Visited Kilmartin Museum and café.  All v. good.


Walk in garden in afternoon, then curry for tea.  Walk in churchyard and environs – Kilmartin Stone!

(Bernie’s bit – When folk look at the rock carvings at Kilmartin Glen, the Bru na Boinne, other sites all over the world, and what is now constantly turning up at the Ness of Brodgar, they wonder what it’s all about – what do these markings – whether carvings or paintings – mean?

When folk look at Australian aboriginal art, either ancient or more recent, the images can be very similar – in-decipherable squiggles, lines and whirls.  The difference is that there are still Australian aboriginal people alive to tell us what these images mean – the stories they tell and the ideas they encapsulate.

Then there’s the Kilmartin Stone, carved by Martin Murphy and placed near the Kilmartin kirkyard in 2005.  Martin Murphy has written about the ideas which inspired him, and the meanings he saw in his carvings.

Now, imagine if that stone, and it’s plinth, were covered over for 5,000 years, then re-discovered.  What would folk make of it?  Yet it’s clear enough when you look at it now – fish, spawning, add water to the cup mark, and the spawn become little fishes swimming out along the channel at the base, into the earth.  Fecundity.  We visited Kilmartin Glen in late April/early May, and it was bursting with life, with new life, new growth everywhere we went.  We came across many young couples with babies and small children – the first night there, we ate at the Kilmartin Hotel and there was a big family party in the restaurant – lots of small children, running in and out.  Fecundity.  Kilmartin Glen attracts fecundity.

As Martin Murphy has carved on the side of his stone

“Let Life Live.”

Please, let’s let life live.

Here it is, make of it what you will.)

Bernie and Mike continue their road trip.  Follow the Orkney News to keep apace with them …….

5 replies »

  1. I lived up the road from Kilmartin for 3 years, and had many nice afternoons both in the glen and in the cafe.

  2. I’m reading ‘The Wild Places’ by Robert Macfarlane, and Mr. Mac says………..

    “Some of the marks left are subtle: on Stanage Moor, the Victorian owners – the Wilsons of Sheffield – employed masons to cut channels and holes into the rocks, so that rainwater collected there and provided drinking water for young grouse in the breeding season; their chisellings are still visible on the rocks.”

    This gave me a strong image of the cup and ring marks, some with channels, which abound in and near Kilmartin Glen – and other places, too.
    I’m not suggesting that the ancient peoples, carved the rocks for this reason! It’s just that the idea appeals to me – one of the many reasons why people carve holes and channels into rocks, which could, long afterwards, make no sense at all – if you haven’t got the back ground story.
    Just a thought……

  3. Some thoughts from Howie (Firth)……….

    “How interesting! And indeed, those marks look so much like cups to hold water and channels for it to run through. This is a fresh new line of thought indeed. What a beautiful thought it would be that they would somehow want to cup the light of the sun in the water.
    It makes me think of a wonderful line in one of Edwin Muir’s poems:
    Rivers of running gold. The sun! The sun!
    And if the marks were made to hold water, it would be the rain water from the sky. That might be seen as different water from that in the earth, as it has fallen in a pure state from above. So it might then be taken for some special purpose. Maybe it would be a kind of holy water?
    If it lay in hollows like this in the rocks, it might also be seen to be infused in some way by light from the sun. It might even be thought to focus it in some way onto the rock? So the end might on the one hand be the water itself, or it might be the rock in which it was held.”

    ( Fiona – I did ask Howie, first, and he said it’s fine to include his words. In fact, he said something even nicer about it!)

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