Ringstone, Torrisdale Bay, Farr, Sutherland

A wonderful tale of feuding giants.

The Northern Antiquarian

Legendary Rock:  OS Grid Reference – NC 69128 61741

Getting Here

The Ringstone, Torrisdale Bay

Along the A836 road between Tongue and Bettyhill, turn down towards Skerray at Borgie Bridge for 1.8 miles (2.87km) until you reach the little information sign at the roadside. Walk downhill and cross the little bridge and wander onto the west side of the beach.  You’re likely to end up daydreaming… so once you’ve re-focussed, head into the middle of the beach and walk up the steep-ish sand-banks to your right (south).  Once at the top, you’ll see a gigantic rock—the Ringstone—bigger than a house.


This gigantic boulder is part of one of Sutherland’s archaic Creation Myths as they’re known: ancient stories recounted by archaic societies about the nature and origins of the world.  Such tales tend to be peopled by giants, gods, huge supernatural creatures, borne of chaos, eggs, darkness and primal oceans.  Thankfully we still find some…

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The perils of owning a brothel…

“Brothel Scene”
Nicolaus Knüpfer (1630s)

A story appearing on the BBC website a few weeks ago, about the poor chap that found his Airbnb flat had been turned into a “pop-up brothel“, gave me a good chuckle. Having previously been the proud owner of a knocking shop myself.

It was my first foray into the murky world of house buying. A nice three bed flat, in a quiet, residential area of the city; not yet robbed of character by the gentrification drive, so prevalent of the 80’s, which would have propelled it well beyond my limited price range. It had been on the market for a while, but, ever trusting, I put in an offer to become owner and resident of a mid-Victorian, corner property, on the first floor, with panoramic views over the city.

Turned up for the signing off ceremony a week later. “If you could sign here… here… and here…” Three ‘tongue-out-concentration-type’ signatures later, each less recognisable than the last, “…and this document is a declaration that you will only use the premises as a family home. If you could sign here…”

“Excuse me?” I had planned on letting out the other two rooms to a brace of students (maybe three), without which the mortgage would likely drown me. “Um. Is this normal?”

“Well, not really. It’s just that the property has a court order on it, stipulating that it must only be used as a family home.”

“A ‘court’ order?”

“Yes. But it’s only a formality. Really. Nothing to worry about…” A little unsettled, and devoid of any knowledge of what the right question might be, I shrugged, and signed.

Moving in day: the downstairs neighbours came out to quiz the sweaty band of disparate lads hoisting a bedroom to the first landing.

Are you all moving in?” No. “How many people will be living here?” Just the one (for now). “Oh, thank heavens. The previous owner was a nightmare” Excuse me? “Yes. We had to get a court order to shut them down… Nice meeting you!” Um… OK…

Now. You would imagine, the place having stood empty for a while, that its prior history would be but a distance memory in the local folklore. Not so. First night, a trail of complete strangers rang the bell looking for Tony. Sorry, Tony no longer lives here, I smiled at the first. The last, a tardy 3am caller, was told in much less polite terms…

Next day, it was the neighbour across the hall who finally explained. “All times of day and night, strange men would turn up and ring the wrong buzzer,” like that was the most serious offence being committed, “and the girls would hang their naked breasts out of the windows, cat calling passers-by. We just couldn’t take anymore… it was awful…”

After a few months the random visits had all but ceased (though the final visitor, obviously a gent of limited appetites, didn’t show up till over a year after I’d moved in).

In the meantime, I’d managed to corral three students from the local Art School. The transition seemed fairly smooth, and we all got on OK with the various neighbours; those at least who bothered to pop their heads out the door when we might be passing.

Then there was the fateful night of the “first” party. Not entirely sure whose idea it was, but sounded like a splendid one at the time.

If it had been a particularly raucous affair, with scantily clad bodies (of either sex) hanging out of windows, we might have expected it. But when you are only half way through the dessert wine, the last thing you expect is fifteen of her majesty’s finest, waving a court order in one hand, banging on the door with the other, and demanding immediate access. Thankfully, the downstairs neighbour could vouch for the good character of the “boys upstairs”…

Moral of the story? Make sure you find out what your lawyer is hiding from you before signing any document that may result in wasting police time…




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Marking the Circle – Solstice of the Moon with Running Elk

A little something for September? Would love to see some of you there. 🙂

The Silent Eye

While we continue to share tales of the Silent Eye’s summer weekend in Wales, The Prisoner of Portmeirion, we would like to invite you to join us in Scotland in September, for a Living Land workshop amongst the sacred circles of Aberdeenshire. The Solstice of the Moon weekend will be guided by our friend, Running Elk, with whom we will explore the wonder and magic of these ancient places.

Image Copyright: Mr Tattieheid

From the earliest migration of our most distant ancestors, as they moved from the cradle of our species to colonise the planet, one thing has remained a predominant driving force. Scarcity: the fear of it, and the desire to avoid becoming victim to it.

Until our Neolithic ancestors put down roots, the survival needs of small family groups could be met through a nomadic existence; following the herds and living off that which the Land provided in…

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Running – the risk of dying

Same thing for “New Drug Saves Lives”; no it doesn’t. “New safety regulations will reduce death toll by 60%”; no they won’t. “Eating Asparagus reduces chance of death…”; nope…

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

Death: Paul Kidby

“Running just a few minutes a day reduces risk of dying”


Such was the headline on the news item that morning.

Now, I don’t run. There is a certain top-heaviness in the curves department that has always made running feel ungraceful for me. It holds few attractions unless it is barefoot through heather or snow when I don’t actually give the proverbial monkey’s about being graceful. I have huge admiration, and a certain amount of jealousy for those who can and do run, but personally, I’ve always preferred to get my exercise in other ways. But hey, if it is going to ‘reduce the risk of dying’…

Except, it isn’t… and the journalist who wrote that wants to be given some fundamental lessons in the mechanics of life. Because the one thing that is absolutely, unquestionably, unarguably certain is that dying is not a risk… it…

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‘You’ll only be good enough…’

A powerful reminder from Ali regarding the power of words, and the importance of choosing them wisely…

Chronicles of an Orange-Haired Woman!

‘…if you are exactly, and do exactly, and say exactly, what I want…’

‘You MUSTN’T  do this…’

‘You SHOULDN’T let that happen…’

‘You OUGHT to follow MY advice…’

This is not about those kindly and loving souls who give us advice to help us; it is about those who condemn us, and bully us, if we do not shape up the way they want!

Anyone out there ever felt this kind of pressure being bought to bear upon them? I have. Countless times. I still do. I am very easy to bully, to persuade, to frighten, to render wobbly and uncertain. You may have noticed. Noticed, for example, how rarely I give vicious ‘tongue’ to vicious, uncalled-for or sanctimonious comments on here. Believe me when I say that I am equally, if not more so, reticent – afraid – when it comes to sticking up for myself through the medium…

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Everything you could wish for is on the other side of fear.

Nick, with a big lesson, wrapped up in a big adventure:

It all started when I contacted a friend about meeting for a catch up. She replied telling me that she couldn’t as she was in Hong Kong. I replied telling her how jealous I was and left it at that. The next day, a very helpful receptionist had pointed me towards some travel blogs. There was one post where somebody had visited Hong Kong. I imagined how the thought of going alone scared me.

Source: Year of the Fire Rooster – a call to action and adventure!

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I am an atheist when the wind is north-northwest.

No words, really. Simple, yet exquisite will need to suffice.

The Allergic Pagan

I am an atheist north by northwest.

But when the wind is southerly, I know a deity from a deist.

If you were to tell me your god is a person like you, I would tell you I am an atheist.

But if you tell me you believe in no god, I will testify the world is full of them.

If you were to tell me there is only one true god, I would tell you I contain multitudes.

But if you tell me your gods are many, I will tell you I have faith in an unseen unity.

If you were to tell me my gods are just in my head, I would point to the earth and say, “Praise!”

But if you tell me your gods are real, I will point to your head and say, “Behold!”

If you were to tell me your god is good, I…

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