The Bard of Orkney

April 11, 2011
Island Hoy, Orkney Islands, not Scotland

Image Credit: V & G Popp, Vienna, Australia

Last month I mentioned a dream I had about large coloured stones that were coloured like the Bungle Bungles, yet my inner tuition has led me to Orkney and another story: of time, of space, of ancestors, of me. Of things of wood and stone.

These are my dream stones to a T.


 “The first law of story-telling – every man is bound to leave a story better than he found it.”

~ George Mackay Brown (maybe)


Magic has fled the world….

…but not completely. It has taken refuge in the few places remaining where it can still thrive.

Orkney is one such place.

A Popular Tree, Papdale, Orkney Islands

Joseph Turner lived in the 19th century. He was a famous English painter. His paintings were a great success. He was fond of dogs. One day his dog which he loved very much broke a leg. 

The artist was very sorry for the dog and wanted to have it to be well again. He was rich enough to send for the best surgeon in London instead of taking a veterinary.

The surgeon arrived and asked the famous painter what the matter was. Joseph Turner realized that the famous surgeon might get offended if he learned that his patient was a dog. So he decided to praise the surgeon. He told the surgeon that he was a great and famous doctor. He begged the surgeon to help his dog because it was very important for him.

The surgeon felt annoyed but he didn’t show it. He treated the dog carefully and soon it was quite well.

The next week the surgeon asked Turner to come to his place. The artist believed that the surgeon wanted to see him in connection with his dog. Joseph Turner arrived at the appointed time and was shown into the sitting-room. The surgeon met him very warmly and said: “Mr. Turner, I am so glad you’ve come. My door needs painting. I know you are too great a painter for this work, but I beg you to do it. It is so important for me”.  ~ Sourced from The History of England

George Mackay Brown 17 October 1921 ~ 13 April 1996, with Gypsy

Image Credit: Gunnie Moberg, 1990

“Here is a work for poets-
Carve the runes
Then be content with silence”

Recovering from his first attack of tuberculosis in 1941, the young George Mackay Brown wandered out of the sanatorium on to the streets of Kirkwall, and presently stood for the first time in the nave of St Magnus Cathedral.  According to his Autobiography, the experience was intense.  “I can’t remember the details except for the one thought – I would like to be buried in this place.” 

Further Fascination: Scar Viking Boat Burial, Orkneyjar

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