By Bernie Bell
Here’s an unusual one –
St. Michael’s Church, Harray, is built on a Broch! As in – yer actual Iron Age broch. If you park in the car park for the church and look across, you will immediately see over the church yard wall, how a ‘mound’ of land, with headstones, stands up above the wall. If you then go through the small gate, just to the left of the church, the fact that there is something other than a natural rise in the land here becomes even more plain.
If you then walk along, through the burial ground, you get a strong feeling of walking through history – there is the broch, below you, and there are all the people buried here, since. When walking here, do, please, have respect for where you are – for those who lived here, those who are placed here, and those who placed them, lovingly.
Walking through the burial ground, then along and down the steps to the lower burial ground, and looking back – again, the outline of the broch is clear.
This will have been a perfect position for a broch, with a wide, wide over-view of the surrounding area. And now, a very peaceful place, still with that over-view for folk to stand and appreciate when visiting those they care for.
‘MY SPIRIT WILL NOT HAUNT THE MOUND’
By Thomas Hardy
My spirit will not haunt the mound
Above my breast,
But travel, memory-possessed,
To where my tremulous being found
Life largest, best.
My phantom-footed shape will go
When nightfall grays
Hither and thither along the ways
I and another used to know
In backward days.
And there you’ll find me, if a jot
You still should care
For me, and for my curious air;
If otherwise, then I shall not,
For you, be there.
The broch hasn’t been excavated, but what did folk find when digging the foundations for the church? And digging the graves for that matter? Many local houses may hold interesting bits of stone and other objects found here, taken home out of interest, and then – the tale of where they were found might have been forgotten, and the stone just known as ‘Grandpa’s stone’