White Deer Blessing

Winter sunset over Glencourse Reservoir

Winter sunset over Glencourse Reservoir, Midlothian, Scotland. January 2014.

We walked up through the Glen, sheltered by the tall elegant figures of Scots Pines. The air was still and hushed with winters cold breath, yet filled with the clear scent of the trees and their pink light. Heading towards Glencourse Reservoir we were following in the ancient tracks of the white deer, sovereign of these glorious hills. Hunted repeatedly by the Kings hounds, she escaped across the stream we were following many times. The spot where she was finally felled by a knight’s hounds, was marked as holy, and later a church was built in honour of St Katherine. It lies now, submerged in the reservoir, blessing the tap water of Edinburgh with its holy stones.

Winter light over Glencourse in the Pentlands

Winter light over Glencourse in the Pentlands. January 2014.

The spirit of these ancient Silurian hills, rolls down in soft waves, soothing the mind and soul of all who visit. Filled with echoes of the distant past, the stories of our ancestors weave themselves into our present. Dazzled by the sun setting over the drowned holy shrine, all worldly worry is washed away, carried into the freshly forming past. Freedom in light as white as the long passed deer, birthed in the heart of the Pentland Hills.

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About greenmackenzie

Hi, I'm Seonaid, and I share my home with my husband, my son and a collection of cats and dogs. I am forever snapping shots of things which catch my eye. 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 run the Maggies Highlands Cancer Centre, in Inverness, Scotland.
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22 Responses to White Deer Blessing

  1. My! The thought of the Church of St. Katherine beneath the waters of the reservoir is intriguing to say the least. You have a special gift for weaving history with the here-and-now. You words allow for connections between the people, places, and events of long ago with this modern world of ours. You are doing your part as a preservationist by planting bits and pieces within each of us. Thank you. All of these wonderful stories and photos taken in such beautiful places is increasing my desire to visit your part of the world someday. Thanks again for splendid words and beautiful images. D

    • My pleasure David, I love this ancient tale and yearn to see the old church each time I look out across this body of water. I’m slowly gathering the threads of old local stories, hoping I can weave them into a book of sorts…but it’s form is proving elusive 🙂

      • tree girl says:

        A few years ago, when we were at the end of a 10-year drought, and our city’s water supply (for 4 million people) was at 20% of capacity, it revealed all of the buildings and farm equipment, fragments of people’s former lives, that were covered with water when the dam was built. It brought up a lot of grief and loss for the people who used to live in those valleys.

        I hope you don’t have to go through a long drought to catch a glimpse of that old church.
        Any old drawings of it?

  2. poppytump says:

    Gosh submerged in a reservoir … it’s a great story ..wonder what those ruins are looking like now
    Wintry sunsets have a such lovely quality if the weather behaves 🙂

    • Indeed Poppy, and it did behave on a Monday, it was beautifully still and calm 🙂
      Apparently the ruins of the church reappeared in the 1930’s during a period of drought…..but I couldn’t find any photos of this!
      I’m imagining a bell still hanging in a stone tower, swaying in the slowly drifting waters….but then I am an incurable romantic!

      • poppytump says:

        I looked too but no pictures … so strange that … another mystery 🙂
        Love the idea of a silent bell trying to be heard …

  3. LB says:

    The sun on the water just draws the eye and makes me want to be there. Lovely

    • I’m certain you would have enjoyed the walk. The reflected light was such a gift after so many grey days, and I loved the way it almost made the horizon disappear into a cloud of light.

  4. restlessjo says:

    Exquisite light, Seonaid. The beauty is dazzling 🙂

  5. Mjollnir says:

    Lovely stuff – and great photos too 😀

  6. Ese' s Voice says:

    Absolutely gorgeous! Like a massage for one’s spirit and soul 🙂

  7. hazelzs says:

    Thanks for following my blog! I love these two particular photos of yours–the combination of water, forest, and topography are three things I have a hard time living without. Scotland is a place I’ve visited twice and would so love to go back there. I look forward to seeing more of your photos!

    • And thanks for following mine 🙂
      I can only agree that these landscapes where hills and water merge make for great beauty. I love the extra bounce of light which the water gives.

  8. What a lovely story and pics, Seonaid. That beautiful white deer lives on forever. 🙂

  9. boxertreiber says:

    I’m charmed 🙂

  10. tree girl says:

    Are there any deer there these days?

    It looks to be a beautifully serene place, especially at sunset.

    • It’s a beautifully sheltered spot, so often even when the wind is blowing wildly it’s calm here, nestled among the hills. I guess that made it a great spot for an ancient church/ chapel. There are still deer, but not so many up in the hills….they prefer the lower wooded slopes 🙂

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