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Skara Brae, Orkney Isles (Credit: Airborne Lens)

The people of the Highlands have a strong and enduring connection to their land and coast and instinctively feel that the mountains, rocks and beaches that surround them endure, while we ourselves live only briefly and leave faint mark.

Stone has been and still is, integral, providing shelter for families and livestock for thousands of years. We have used it to celebrate community, give meaning to our beliefs and ultimately to commemorate and record our passing. We can see this in the standing stones, carved and plain that grace our wild Highland landscape. We journey together, albeit in a different timeframe marking the passing of life with Cairns. Our Highland mountains will eventually journey through weather worn boulders to become pebbles and perhaps at last, grains of sand on the beautiful beaches that dip to the North or Atlantic seas. Walking through the landscape, there is simple pleasure in the smooth cool of a pebble fished from a burn or the heat of a small sun kissed rock, rough against the palm.

When I was a young art student, a group of us travelled to a cèilidh in Applecross over the Bealach. Reaching the summit, we found a series of tall stone cairns wreathed in ethereal mist. We added our chosen stones carefully while one of our number-a Highlander by birth- intoned a Celtic blessing and poured a libation over the largest in good Morangie malt.

Many years later, I received a proposal of marriage and went for a wander along Balintore beach. I was looking for a sign to help me make a decision, for the situation was complex. After some minutes I paused, looked down and there, at my feet, lay a tiny, perfect heart shaped stone.

I have many such stone stories that mark the passage of my life, both from abroad and here at home in the Highlands. I hope my musings inspire you to collect your own meaningful spirit stones.


We Want to Hear From You!

Share your stories of your favourite landscapes in the Highlands and Islands

Stories are at the heart of what we do as a project and we are always looking to learn more about what the Highlands and Islands means to people who live, work, and visit here.

The connections between people and the landscape are timeless. Landscapes, like single pebbles and stones, are witnesses of memories both good and bad and bear the stories, traces, and scars of historical and contemporary societies. Inspired by this story we would love to know, what are some of your favourite landscapes or land markers in the Highlands and Islands? How do you feel they represent the Spirit of the Highlands and Islands? Tell us below, we can't wait to hear from you!

Click here to share your story through our online story portal