27 October 2012


While in Scotland this summer we made a pilgrimage to Island nan Roan, which is, of course, Roan's namesake.  The island is directly across from the croft, the only barrier between the wee house and the relentless winds of the North Sea.  It's about a mile away, about 700 acres, and currently inhabited by a ratty band of feral sheep.

The history of the island is incredible and mostly filled with unbelievably tough and pious people who fished, tended sheep and hunted seal (Roan means "seal" in gaelic) under fairly brutal conditions.  You can read much more about the island and see photos here.  My favorite little nugget of history is this:

By the beginning of the nineteenth century the only remaining individual was a dwarf, known as Pipeir an Eilean. He had formerly been a piper in the Duke’s regiment. He had two daughters, one of small stature, Betsey, married, Angus Macdonald, the tallest and strongest man in Ceann Tuath. They were joined by five other families to settle on the island and raise their families. 

Seriously, you can't make this stuff up.
Island Roan in the distanc

To get there Sam's dad took us across in his boat and then went off fishing while we scrambled up the rock face.  This is also how they used to get sheep from the mainland to the island. A rowboat full of sheep. No thank you.

The settlements are now collapsing skeletons filled with about 3 feet of sheep shit.  You can see more photos of the houses etc on my website .  It's sort of heartbreaking because clearly people worked so hard to build them and care for them once.

We walked around for a while. The wind never ever stops.  There isn't a single tree. It's amazing how enchanting such a desolate place can be. Here's Roan trying to stick a carrot up his nose.

So we perched him on the island's highest point.

I love that Roan has his very own island.  He will always have this place and it will be here for him long after we are gone.

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