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TITLE
'Scottish Highlanders: A People and their Place'
EXTERNAL ID
AB_LL_JAMES_HUNTER
PLACENAME
Ariundle
DISTRICT
Lochaber
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
ARGYLL: Ardnamurchan
DATE OF RECORDING
2008
PERIOD
2000s
CREATOR
James Hunter
SOURCE
Am Baile
ASSET ID
1360
KEYWORDS
audio
literary landscapes

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This audio extract is from 'Scottish Highlanders: A People and their Place' by James Hunter, published in 1992. It is read here by the author.

'My great-great grandfather's name was Allan Cameron and he lived near Strontian, at a place called Ariundle, and this is what I've written about that place.

Allan Cameron's house at Ariundle is in ruins now. Its roof has long gone. Rowan and hawthorn trees grow from its crumbling walls. Bracken swamps the little field where Allan would have cut his hay. But if you go there in spring, you'll see in flower the daffodils which someone who once lived here planted in this place.

All around is Ariundle oakwood, today a National Nature Reserve.

'They worship the gods without makeing use of temples', a Roman author recorded of the Celts of Gaul. Their most sacred places, wrote another Roman of those fierce and fiery warriors, were invariably 'groves of oak'.

So it was also among the pagan Celts of the British Isles. And it's not, I think, too fanciful to discern something of these ancient affinities enduring in the outlook of the Christian successors to the druid priests of earlier times.

There were two spots in Ireland which Colum Cille, St Columba, is thought to have regarded with particular favour. One was Derry, one was Durrow. Both those modern placenames are corruptions of the Gaelic word applied still to an oak tree.

Scribbled here and there on manuscripts which were penned some twelve or thirteen centuries ago, one finds hints as to how the Gaelic-speaking churchmen of Columba's time thought about their world. That world did not seem to them a vale of tears. It was a place where a blackbird - with its loud, distinctive call - could be likened playfully to a hermit needing no bell to ward off strangers. It was a place where, almost in the manner of a modern naturalist, a man might comment perceptively on the detailed doings of the bees to be seen from the open door of his stone cubicle. It was a place, above all, to be enjoyed, to be appreciated.

The eighth-century Gael who longed to have 'a secret hut in the wilds' with 'a lovely wood around it on every side to nurse the singing birds', would, without doubt, have warmed to Ariundle.'

Professor James Hunter CBE FRSE is director of the UHI Centre for History. The author of eleven books on the Scottish Highlands and on the region's worldwide diaspora, he has also been active in the public life of the area. In the mid-1980s, he became the first director of the Scottish Crofters Union, representing the crofters, or small-scale farmers, of the Highlands. More recently, he served for six years as chairman of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the north of Scotland's development agency.

In the course of a varied career, Jim Hunter has also been a journalist, broadcaster and consultant. He was born, and grew up in, Duror, North Argyll, and has spent most of his life in the Scottish Highlands. In recognition of his services to the Highlands, James Hunter was made a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2001. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2007.

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'Scottish Highlanders: A People and their Place'

ARGYLL: Ardnamurchan

2000s

audio; literary landscapes

Am Baile

Literary Landscapes: James Hunter

This audio extract is from 'Scottish Highlanders: A People and their Place' by James Hunter, published in 1992. It is read here by the author.<br /> <br /> 'My great-great grandfather's name was Allan Cameron and he lived near Strontian, at a place called Ariundle, and this is what I've written about that place.<br /> <br /> Allan Cameron's house at Ariundle is in ruins now. Its roof has long gone. Rowan and hawthorn trees grow from its crumbling walls. Bracken swamps the little field where Allan would have cut his hay. But if you go there in spring, you'll see in flower the daffodils which someone who once lived here planted in this place.<br /> <br /> All around is Ariundle oakwood, today a National Nature Reserve.<br /> <br /> 'They worship the gods without makeing use of temples', a Roman author recorded of the Celts of Gaul. Their most sacred places, wrote another Roman of those fierce and fiery warriors, were invariably 'groves of oak'.<br /> <br /> So it was also among the pagan Celts of the British Isles. And it's not, I think, too fanciful to discern something of these ancient affinities enduring in the outlook of the Christian successors to the druid priests of earlier times.<br /> <br /> There were two spots in Ireland which Colum Cille, St Columba, is thought to have regarded with particular favour. One was Derry, one was Durrow. Both those modern placenames are corruptions of the Gaelic word applied still to an oak tree.<br /> <br /> Scribbled here and there on manuscripts which were penned some twelve or thirteen centuries ago, one finds hints as to how the Gaelic-speaking churchmen of Columba's time thought about their world. That world did not seem to them a vale of tears. It was a place where a blackbird - with its loud, distinctive call - could be likened playfully to a hermit needing no bell to ward off strangers. It was a place where, almost in the manner of a modern naturalist, a man might comment perceptively on the detailed doings of the bees to be seen from the open door of his stone cubicle. It was a place, above all, to be enjoyed, to be appreciated.<br /> <br /> The eighth-century Gael who longed to have 'a secret hut in the wilds' with 'a lovely wood around it on every side to nurse the singing birds', would, without doubt, have warmed to Ariundle.'<br /> <br /> Professor James Hunter CBE FRSE is director of the UHI Centre for History. The author of eleven books on the Scottish Highlands and on the region's worldwide diaspora, he has also been active in the public life of the area. In the mid-1980s, he became the first director of the Scottish Crofters Union, representing the crofters, or small-scale farmers, of the Highlands. More recently, he served for six years as chairman of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the north of Scotland's development agency. <br /> <br /> In the course of a varied career, Jim Hunter has also been a journalist, broadcaster and consultant. He was born, and grew up in, Duror, North Argyll, and has spent most of his life in the Scottish Highlands. In recognition of his services to the Highlands, James Hunter was made a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2001. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2007.