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  • Clava Cairns lie hidden in a fold of hillside behind my house.

    The site is an exceptionally well preserved group of prehistoric burial cairns that were built about 4,000 years ago. The Bronze Age cemetery complex is made up of passage graves, ring cairns, kerb cairn, standing stones and the remains of a chapel of unknown date. They are quite remarkable, and incredibly well preserved.

    It was used in two periods. Around 2000 BC a row of large cairns was built, three of which can be seen today and there may once have been two more. A thousand years later the cemetery was reused. New burials were placed in some of the existing cairns and three smaller monuments were built including a 'kerb cairn'.

    In the 1990's a thorough survey of the upstanding remains revealed previously unnoticed connections between the colour and texture of the building materials, the architecture of the monuments and their known relationship with the rising and setting sun.

    Those are the words that describe this place. They are enlightening.

    But they are not light.

    Light writes a different story.

    Last night I visited, and watched as the low spring sun dipped towards the horizon.

    At first shade cloaked the site.

    Colours soft, shadows absent.

    Then slowly sunlight peered round a cloud and angled through the surrounding woodland, trees still winterbare, sending shadows rippling across the ground. And every bump and undulation came alive, their presence revealed by light and shaping shade.

    Some stoneshadows ran straight and touched other stones, their shade in turn bending, quite curiously, around other smaller touch a tree. The tree itself issuing a long complex frieze of shadow filigree fraying off to distance.

    And as the sun reached for the horizon, to pull itself towards night, the story that the light told about this landscape shifted and changed.
    A story not yet ended.
    The shadowlines lengthening, longer and longer and longer, but always, before they reach their final chapter, always....
    By night.


    To dance on only in the brightness of our imaginations.
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