Pictish footsteps

We took a walk along the shores of Loch Duich to this amazing iron age broch. Its called Caisteal Grugaig (or Dun Totaig) Broch, and is well off the beaten track on a lonely peninsula, looking across Loch Duich and Loch Alsh towards Eilean Donnan Castle. The contrast between the heavily visited Eilean Donnan and this almost forgotten ruined broch is imense, and hugely satisfying. You can’t just park your car and jump out…..you need to put your walking boots on and follow an ever narrowing track towards our ancient history.

I was blown away with how old this place was…..it was built by the Picts, who were the original native inhabitants of Scotland…this means it was built before the sixth century AD, and lots of it is still standing. As we explored I kept imagining whose feet had trotted up these ancient stone steps, which curl up around the inside of the circular walls.

Unlike its better known cousins in Glen Elg, just over the hill, much of this broch is uncleared, which adds to the atmosphere. It is cloathed in moss, ferns and lichens, and seems to rise from the earth itself. Crouching inside and peering out of a window across the sea, I had a sense of how safe you would feel protected inside this ancient stone tower.

We sat in the ‘guard cell’ inside the stone doorway, and drank warm tea from our flask, wondering who had eaten and laughed inside these walls, wondering what stories had filled the air we were now breathing. The stones were fitted so well together that they had needed no mortar to hold them in place, and it made me think about other ancient sites on the distant continent of South America, built so long ago and yet still standing tall. I guess these ancestors of ours knew a thing or two about working with stone…..things which seem sadly lacking in modern building techniques. It got me wondering how many of the buildings which we construct might still be standing in 1,500 years for our descendants to marvel at…..

I love feeling myself pulled back into history, and into the minds and lives of the countless generations of people who walked the earth before us. This poem speaks to me of these aged yet ageless ancestors who we barely know, yet whose blood races through our veins….

The Song of Wandering Aengus

I went out to the hazelwood,

Because a fire was in my head,

And cut and peeled a hazel wand,

and hooked a berry to a thread.

And when white moths were on the wing

And moth-like stars were flickering out,

I dropped the berry in a stream

And caught a little silver trout.


When I had laid it on the floor

I went to blow the fire aflame,

But something rustled on the floor,

And someone called me by my name.

It had become a glimmering girl

With apple blossom in her hair

Who called me by my name and ran

And faded through the brightening air.


Though I am old with wandering

Through hollow lands and hilly lands,

I will find out where she has gone,

And kiss her lips and take her handd;

And walk amongst dappled grass,

And pluck till time and times are done

The silver apples of the moon,

The golden apples of the sun.

By Yeats

About greenmackenzie

Hi, I'm Seonaid, and I share my home on the shores of Loch Ness deep in the Scottish Highlands with my husband, my son and a couple of dogs. I love art which is here now and gone tomorrow...like food and nature...but also have a passion for vintage and the ancient past! Nature is my favourite muse, with her wild ever shifting seasons. I have been using and teaching mindfulness and relaxation for over 12 years, and have yet to become any sort of expert :-) I'm a Psychotherapist and Cancer Support Specialist in Maggies Highlands
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