Tag Archives: Mortlach Storywalks

As I cam’ in by Auchindoun

Ben Rinnes from Clunymore

I recently spent a week in Moray with Angus Reid, writing and walking. We stayed above the River Fiddich in the house of Mary Bourne, the sculptor who co-ordinated the Mortlach Storywalks project. The house has views west towards Ben Rinnes, the highest top in the area.
Auchindoun Castle

It also looks across the glen to the ruins of Auchindoun Castle, set on a low hillock above the River Fiddich. It was from Auchindoun that Adam Gordon rode out to Corgraff Castle; his burning of the latter is told in the ballad ‘Edom o’ Gordon’. The revenge attack is told in the shorter and less well-known ballad, ‘Burning of Auchindoun’ (Child #183).

As I cam’ in by Fiddichside, on a May morning
I spied Willie MacIntosh an hour before the dawning

Turn agin, turn agin, turn agin, I bid ye
If ye burn Auchindoun, Huntly he will heid ye

Heid me or hang me, that shall never fear me
I’ll burn Auchindoun though the life leaves me

As I cam’ in by Auchindoun, on a May morning
Auchindoun was in a bleeze, an hour before the dawning

Crawing, crawing, for a’ your crouse crawin’
Ye brunt your crop an’ tint your wings an hour before the dawning.

I made a few label-poems there.

last night the castle / drifted in and out of mist / samurai movie-set

above the settled land / we hear gulls and sheep / and gunshot

high summer / the thistles still await / their purple

Near the castle there are some ruined farm buildings – some are being renovated, but we looked round a particularly delapidated house.
delapidated downstairs

delapidated upstairs

We drove a few miles into the Cabrach to Rhinturk Farmhouse, still standing, still productive.
Rhinturk closed

Rhinturk open

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Mortlach Storywalks

P2 looking towards Dufftown from Meg's Widd

P7 returning from The Giant's Chair

Earlier this year I worked at Mortlach Primary School in Dufftown, mainly with the P2, P4 and P7 classes. We walked – in snow and sunshine – some of the paths around the town, which the kids had already explored with Wild things!, and I got them to write about their impressions of the ground we’d covered. I collated, edited and wrote up their material as stories, which have just been published as three leaflets, designed by Glasgow-based artist Janie Nicoll. P2 collectively describe Meg’s Widd, P4 become Jimbo, a local boy showing visitors round The Toon’s Widd, while P7 encounter a shape-shifter who opens up the history and ecology of The Giant’s Chair. The leaflets are available from Dufftown Tourist Information Centre, and other venues in the town.

The project was co-ordinated by Mary Bourne, sculptor, and a member of the School Council. Her carved stones using poems by children from all classes have been placed along the three walks.

the river meanders beneath the spider spinning its fragile web while the buzzard drifts overhead as the river…

sLender whIte Noisy watErfall, tumbliNg And imPatient, Rushes tOwards dullaN (LINEN APRON)

rocks under water shaded by trees the heron nests in and flies down to stand on rocks…

Works made by P1, P3 and P5 with Janie Nicoll have been installed in Dufftown’s Cottage Hospital, Tourist Information Centre and at the local library. Additional works are in the school itself.

The P6 class prepared an orienteering route around Meg’s Widd, making a map and contributing words for the stones which serve as control points.

The nursery children worked with Vivien Hendry and Mary Bourne, making peg-fairies which they took to Meg’s Widd. I ‘interviewed’ them about their fairies’ skills and adventures, and Vivien has made a limited-edition book, The Magic of Meg’s Widd.

The Magic of Meg's Widd (photo: Mary Bourne)

Mortlach Story Walks is a partnership project between Mortlach Primary School, Dufftown, Moray and the Speyside Paths Network Group to produce arts-based interpretation for the countryside around Dufftown. It is initiated and supported by the school’s Parent Council.