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TITLE
'The Rocks Remain'
EXTERNAL ID
AB_LL_GAVIN_MAXWELL_02
PLACENAME
Sandaig
DISTRICT
Lochaber
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
INVERNESS: Glenelg
DATE OF RECORDING
2008
PERIOD
2000s
CREATOR
Gavin Maxwell
SOURCE
Am Baile
ASSET ID
1318
KEYWORDS
otters
otter
authobiographies
audio
literary landscapes

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This audio extract is from Gavin Maxwell's autobiography, 'The Rocks Remain', first published in 1963, the second in his trilogy on life at Sandaig, Glenelg. It is read here by David McClymont.

'I travelled in the autumn of 1962 to southern Europe and North Africa and when I returned to Camusfeàrna I found much change. The house now had many of the amenities of civilisation including sanitation, a bath and showers and the tiny kitchen was now all electric. Every one of these innovations dependent upon water was, however, functionless, for at the date of my return the supply had been frozen for more than a month, and remains frozen at the time of writing five weeks later.

My arrival at the house had a curious, almost surrealistic flavour. During my absence a jeep had been added to the Camusfeàrna transport fleet, and in this we ... jolted ... down the frozen track whose mud mountains and ruts had become as hard as rock. At the house the headlights showed a single greylag goose standing outside the door, and Jimmy explained to me that of the five that we had imported in the late summer to replace those that had left us in July this was the sole survivor. Two had disappeard only a week ago, fallen prey, probably, to foxes or wildcats whose more usual sources of food supply were cut off by the snow and the cold. Now this single goose tried to push past us into the house, and having succeeded in entering the living-room tried immediately to jump up on to the sofa whose entire surface was occupied by the sprawling form of Dirk the deerhound. Deterred from this enterprise by Dirk's uncooperative spirit, the goose then hopped into an armchair. At no time in the past had the bird even tried to enter the house.'

Gavin Maxwell was raised in Elrig, near Port William in Wigtownshire. He was the youngest son of Lieutenant-Colonel Aymer Maxwell and Lady Mary Percy, daughter of the Duke of Northumberland. His childhood was spent on the family estate and at a series of preparatory schools (as detailed in his autobiography, 'The House of Elrig' (1965). During World War II he served in the Scots Guards before being seconded to Special Forces as an arms instructor. After the war, he purchased the island of Soay, off Skye.

Maxwell had various short-lived ventures including geese collecting in Wigtownshire, studying eider duck in Lapland, creating a shark fishery off Skye, and portrait painting in London. The shark fishery endeavour led to the publication of 'Harpoon at a Venture' (1952). 'A Reed Shaken by the Wind' (1957) was published after his tour of the Southern Iraq reed marshes with explorer Wilfred Thesiger.

Maxwell's seminal work, 'A Ring of Bright Water', was first published in 1960 and told the story of his first ten years living at Sandaig, Glenelg, on the west coast of Scotland. His remote home was a haven for wildlife and he settled there with his otters, Mij, Edal and Teko. His book became a best-seller and was made into a film. Two further volumes, 'The Rocks Remain' (1963) and 'Raven Seek Thy Brother' (1968) completed the trilogy, detailing the difficult last years at Sandaig and the final abandonment of the settlement.

After his Sandaig home was destroyed by fire Maxwell moved to the lighthouse cottage of Eilean Bàn near Kyle of Lochalsh where he died from cancer in 1969.

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'The Rocks Remain'

INVERNESS: Glenelg

2000s

otters; otter; authobiographies; audio; literary landscapes

Am Baile

Literary Landscapes: Gavin Maxwell

This audio extract is from Gavin Maxwell's autobiography, 'The Rocks Remain', first published in 1963, the second in his trilogy on life at Sandaig, Glenelg. It is read here by David McClymont.<br /> <br /> 'I travelled in the autumn of 1962 to southern Europe and North Africa and when I returned to Camusfeàrna I found much change. The house now had many of the amenities of civilisation including sanitation, a bath and showers and the tiny kitchen was now all electric. Every one of these innovations dependent upon water was, however, functionless, for at the date of my return the supply had been frozen for more than a month, and remains frozen at the time of writing five weeks later.<br /> <br /> My arrival at the house had a curious, almost surrealistic flavour. During my absence a jeep had been added to the Camusfeàrna transport fleet, and in this we ... jolted ... down the frozen track whose mud mountains and ruts had become as hard as rock. At the house the headlights showed a single greylag goose standing outside the door, and Jimmy explained to me that of the five that we had imported in the late summer to replace those that had left us in July this was the sole survivor. Two had disappeard only a week ago, fallen prey, probably, to foxes or wildcats whose more usual sources of food supply were cut off by the snow and the cold. Now this single goose tried to push past us into the house, and having succeeded in entering the living-room tried immediately to jump up on to the sofa whose entire surface was occupied by the sprawling form of Dirk the deerhound. Deterred from this enterprise by Dirk's uncooperative spirit, the goose then hopped into an armchair. At no time in the past had the bird even tried to enter the house.'<br /> <br /> Gavin Maxwell was raised in Elrig, near Port William in Wigtownshire. He was the youngest son of Lieutenant-Colonel Aymer Maxwell and Lady Mary Percy, daughter of the Duke of Northumberland. His childhood was spent on the family estate and at a series of preparatory schools (as detailed in his autobiography, 'The House of Elrig' (1965). During World War II he served in the Scots Guards before being seconded to Special Forces as an arms instructor. After the war, he purchased the island of Soay, off Skye.<br /> <br /> Maxwell had various short-lived ventures including geese collecting in Wigtownshire, studying eider duck in Lapland, creating a shark fishery off Skye, and portrait painting in London. The shark fishery endeavour led to the publication of 'Harpoon at a Venture' (1952). 'A Reed Shaken by the Wind' (1957) was published after his tour of the Southern Iraq reed marshes with explorer Wilfred Thesiger.<br /> <br /> Maxwell's seminal work, 'A Ring of Bright Water', was first published in 1960 and told the story of his first ten years living at Sandaig, Glenelg, on the west coast of Scotland. His remote home was a haven for wildlife and he settled there with his otters, Mij, Edal and Teko. His book became a best-seller and was made into a film. Two further volumes, 'The Rocks Remain' (1963) and 'Raven Seek Thy Brother' (1968) completed the trilogy, detailing the difficult last years at Sandaig and the final abandonment of the settlement. <br /> <br /> After his Sandaig home was destroyed by fire Maxwell moved to the lighthouse cottage of Eilean Bàn near Kyle of Lochalsh where he died from cancer in 1969.