Admittedly, I had accidentally timed the visit to occur in a window of opportunity as the weather was highly unpredictable, being that there was a tail end of a hurricane blowing around us. Scotland has some splendid coastal area, many of them highly exposed to the elements as this one was.
The visitor information boards all warned of ‘DANGER’ particularly with the winds, the exposure to the cliffs, the rocks and the cold North Atlantic sea below. These were the same dangers the villagers who were here, faced on a daily basis. So dangerous was this location that livestock, chickens and children had to be tethered for their own safety. Imagine that!
The people had all gone, many had emigrated to New Zealand. A community of people had been ‘cleared’ from fertile inland homesteads to this dangerous, stony coastal space where they carved out some kind life for about 80 years, by various and ingenious means. By the early 19th century, all, bar three people, had moved on. The clues to how they survived were mostly hidden under the bracken, thistle and heather growth. All that clearly remained for us to see, in the early years of the twenty-first century, was a monument, constructed in 1911 by order of a great grandson of one of the families, who himself was a New Zealander. It reminded us that it was not just the shadows of people and children whose dangerous pathways we were treading, these people had identities. The monument ensured that their names would be remembered, though the visible evidence of their lives, their stone cottages, which were in ruins, would probably disappear eventually, these hardy people’s legacy would not.