One For the Road

Travelling Along Back Country Roads is the theme of this week’s Lens-Artists Challenge #158. Thank you to Beth for her post. You can visit her site here

Now here’s a story for you –

One cloudy Sunday afternoon I followed this single track road to get closer to Loch Tay (Tay in the Gaelic means “House”). Further down the road. I could see ruins down in the trees along the shore. Surely this had to be the old village of Lawers I’d heard about.

It was a fair slope down to the water. In the fields beside the track, there were a few cattle and on the other more sheep … who ran off as I approached … all except one. The dry-stane dyke has been waiting a while to be restored.

The loch is beautiful in a lovely part of Perthshire. Once part of the Breadalbane estates – the family that once held the largest landholdings in all of Scotland.

When I reached the shore, there was not a soul around. I soaked up the views, the cool air on my face and the stony earth at my feet. I couldn’t see any sign of a jetty. I’d been told steamships used to do day trips along the loch in the 1800s. Further east along the bank, I explored the ruins of the 1000-year-old village of Lawers.

Few walls stood amidst the hummocks of fallen stones and tangle of trees. The gable-end of a home still stood out. After the village church roof collapsed two hundred years ago, services were held within its walls. It’s said about a thousand people from the area would attend communion, many rowing across the loch.

It was so still, here. No birds sang. There was not a breath of wind. An occasional bleat from sheep reassured me a bit.

Just the day before, I’d heard that the village is haunted by a certain Lady of Lawers.

She lived in the late 17th century, was said to be gifted with Second Sight and when she died was buried under an Ash tree beside the kirk.

Soothsayer, Mary Campbell married and lived here in the late 17th Century, in this township on her husband’s farm. She became known as the ‘Lady of Lawyers,’ because of her wise sayings. Many of her predictions came true in time. Some caught my attention!

The feather of the goose will drive the memory from man.

Storytelling gatherings in people’s homes kept the community together. People knew their family history and the tales of their ancestors. Learning to read and write (education) meant that people lost the need to sit telling stories to others. They no longer felt that strong sense of belonging.

The mouth of the sheep will strip the land pf its people.

During the Highland Clearances of 1750 to 1860 many poor families here were evicted from their homes and the thatch roof burnt so they could not return.

The last person left this village in 1939. The land has been for sale since 2016. A real estate agent commented that they’ve had a lot of interest lately, especially from other European countries, perhaps because of CoVid…

Oh No! This reminds me of another of her prophecies!

Spend as you get, get as you spend. Save and for whom? Remember death!

Lady of Lawers

As the clouds began to darken, I had one last look at the loch. Saw the remnants of the pier for steamships in the distance and left … vowing to learn more of Mary Campbell’s times and story.

Sources

CAMPSIE, Alison in The Scotsman, September 7, 2020. The Village that stood for 1000 years and slowly slipped away.  

The Lady of Lawers. Wikipedia. accessed 27 July 2021

(PS. If interested further, search for a program with Tom Weir called ‘The Lady of Lawers’)

All text (except quotes) and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp Copyright © under Australian Law.

6 thoughts on “One For the Road

  1. Hi Meg, I just love the composition of the photo of the sheep that stayed; the foreground and path that draws your eye to the sheep in the middle ground, and then up to the background. Lovely.

    Like

  2. Dear Meg, only the day before yesterday I was procrastinating and looked up villages for sale. The village of Lawers came up and I read all about it, but the story wasn’t nearly so well told as yours, and the photos weren’t nearly as lovely as yours. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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