Metasaga belongs in the Norse tradition of Orkney and Shetland. When this idea is transfered to the Gaelic culture of the Hebrides and the HIghlands it must become MEATASGEUL. Sgeul being the Gaidhlig for story. The narrative tradition of the Gael with the idea of the bard in every community is an ideal setting for Metasgeul. This is a landscape rich in tradition and story of the ancient celtic way.

Our Heritage makes us different but the sea makes us the same. This connection and shared experience is captured in the poetry of Donald S. Murray. The following poem is taken from his book "Between Minch and Muckle Flugga" .

Sea Speech
There must be a tangle of words

between Minch and Muckle Flugga.

Oaths spat out in storms where men
cursed straits in which they found themselves.

Promises of love or parting
blown astray by currents.

Old friendships held at bay by outbursts
slipping moorings in a narrow sound.

And, too, the muffled screams
of those whose dreams were wrecked

The nights boats floundered
near rock or headland

Signalling distress through cries
in Norn, English, Gaelic,

Washing in and out of kelp or bladderwrack
near shores haunted by the speech of men.

Donald S. Murray

The first Metasgeul is around Am Braighe just outside Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis. It was constructed to demonstrate the tool to Education staff in the islands. It is hoped it will be the first of many as schools pick up the idea and create with their pupils a Metasgeul for their own area, exploring their heritage, traditions and landscape.

Braighe - the isthmus
Am Braighe is a narrow strip of land , a mile long and no more than 100 metres wide. It joins Point ( An Rubha) to the rest of Lewis, making Point almost an island. A story is told locally about the isthmus.

Back in the mists of time, Point was a separate island to the rest of Lewis. One dark winter's night, a violent and ferocious storm pounded the west coast of Scotland. As the gigantic waves crashed and crashed, Lewis began to drift hopelessly out into the Atlantic. The people of Point saw this happening and braved the storm to get a rope across to Lewis and stopped it floating away. Over time, around that rope gathered seaweed, algae and sand which eventually accumulated so that an isthmus was formed between Point and Lewis. Thus, according to the myth, the people of Lewis owe a great debt to the inhabitants of Point for saving them that night.
The main road now tops the isthmus , it is a connection.
How are you connected to other people?

If there is a car crash the road can be blocked cutting Point off.
How can your communication be blocked?
When do you feel cut off ?

Point was the anchor for Lewis.
What anchors you?
What makes you feel secure?
Have you ever felt you were drifting away?

On either side of the road you can explore a beach of your choice. For me it would need to be the northside.
The Beach

481029003_2b8e98337b.jpgI love the long curve of the beach , shingle, sand and lapping waves. The back of the beach is a wave of concrete protecting the Braighe from the winter surge. Dark wooden fingers of breakwaters reach out into the sea. Trying to hold the sand in place. The constant grind of the waves.There are shells, stones and floatsome to pick among.

Up behind the dunes are the graves and memorials, the road to Stornoway. Here on the beach there is the sea and the sky. My first visit on a cold October afternoon with the sun going down I was alone.

Where do you go to be alone?
How do you react to solitude?
How do you protect yourself?
Eye Church

St Columba’s Church is a 14th Century ruin sitting within its own Cemetery and located on a sandy isthmus near the main town of Stornoway. Commonly known as St Columba’s (Uidh) - Uidh being the Gaelic for isthmus - the Church is also referred to as the Eye Church or its Gaelic equivalent, Eaglais na h-Aoidhe.
St Columba’s (Uidh), is important, not only for its Church, but for its internationally significant Cemetery. Two intricately carved stone grave slabs adorn the internal wall of the Church, lifted from the ground to reduce the effects of weathering. One slab, depicting a warrior in mail armour wearing a pommelled sword and carrying a spear commemorates Roderick Macleod VII, the last of the Macleod Chiefs, who died in 1498 and is buried below the Church floor. On the opposite wall is another grave slab in a Celtic design with interwoven patterns of foliage and animals. The Latin inscription around the edge has long since become illegible but once read, “Here lies Margaret, daughter of Roderick Macleod of Lewis, widow of Lachlan MacKinnon, died 1503”. As many as nineteen Macleod Chiefs may be buried in Uidh.

96872105_5cb093dc58_m.jpg Have you explored your family history?
What did you find out?
How did that make you feel?
Where are your roots?

The Clan has a crest and a motto.
What would your crest be?
What motto would suit you or your organisation?

On Christmas Day 1887, a meeting of landless crofters was held in the Eye Churchyard, Point and it was decided that a deputation should speak to the owner of nearby Aignish farm to inform him that if he did not vacate the farm with his entire stock, within a fortnight, they would drive every beast off the land and reclaim it as their own.


Aignish Memorial
The purpose of the Aignish Cairns is to honour the individuals involved in the Crofters Struggle for Land Law Reform circa 1888. The Cairn provides a visual memorial and presence to a historical event previously held within an oral tradition.

Cuimhneachain nan Gaisgeach

The site of the memorial is Aignish farm on a ridge overlooking the Eye Church of St Columba to the north and the entrance to Stornoway to the south.
The Design of the cairn reflects the idea of confrontation and takes the form of two stone structures of local stone approx 15 ft in height a few feet apart each with a flat face from which jagged stones protrude these pillars have curved backs and taper in towards the top. The jagged stones face each reflecting the aggression and tension of the event.

The opening day saw a gathering of more than 600. A group of 200 local people in the costume of the period carrying red flags marched from Bayble School to the cairn led by pipers. The crowd formed an audience for a performance of a play The Aignish Riot. The Cairn was opened by John Mackay the son of one of the 13 jailed raiders.

"About noon, a party of the raiders clashed with the marines, and eleven of them were taken into custody. When the incensed crowd attempted to free their comrades, it took the bayonets of the marines to keep them at bay. Missiles of all kinds began to fly, and the situation appeared ugly."

How do you deal with conflict?
Have you ever avoided a really ugly situation?
What would you make a stand for?
Would you carry a red flag and march to rememebr those who stood up for what they believed in?

The Graveyard

A walk through the graveyard below the memorial reveals a thousand stories. families involved in the riots to men lost in the great wars. But for me Aignish is about those who left these shores never to return. The strength of the pull of their homeland never left them. It is captured in the hauntingly beautifulCapercaillie song:


An ciaradh m'fheasgair 's mo bheath' air claoidh
Mo rosg air dunadh 's a' bha\s gun chli.
Stiuir cu\rs' an lar leam gu Eilean ciatach
Gu Aignish sgiamhach far an d'a\raich mi.

An sin gun ca\irich sibh mi 'san fho\d
A measg mo cha\irdean 'smo shinnsrean co\ir,
Ri tonnan ba\rr-gheal a' bualadh tra\ghad
'Sri machair Aignish nan laoigh 's nam bo\.

Aignish (translation)

When day is over and life is done
Mine eyes have closed and my strength has gone,
O westwards take me and quietly lay me
In Aignish graveyard beside the sea.

There please leave me by kith and kin
By parents kindly and all my friends,
By white waves pounding on beaches sounding
By Aignish graveyard beside the sea.

ALBUM: The Blood Is Strong:

Where have you had to leave?
Who have you left behind?
Would you move for work?
Who is really important to you?
What music do you listen to ?

The Loch

Continuing on across Am Braighe you will
come to the Loch.

Local Myth has it that the waters here are healing.DSCF0706.JPG
If you gather the foam from the water and treat warts with it they will disappear.

What warts do you have?
How could you remove them?
What needs healing in you or your organisation?Who needs healing?

When you return to the road turn and look back across Am Braighe. There are many memories that need to be healed , the Iolaire, Aignish land riots , all those that were forced to leave their homeland . Remember their struggle against landlords , poverty and foreign powers. The gave up their freedom and laid down their lives all they ask is that we remember. How do you want to be remembered?

Gus am bris an latha agus an teich na sgàilean - Until the day breaks and the shadows flee away