Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Historical Inverness

Today I'm visiting Inverness, virtually that is, and found this incredible picture of the seacoast along northern Scotland. These are the famous Duncansby Stacks, so reminiscent of the standing stones left throughout the islands by neolithic peoples. Fishermen and passing ships would have seen these sandstone stacks; the whole coast is rugged, storm swept with treacherous tides. Mac, one of the characters in my book, is traveling down from Kirkwall in Orkney to Inverness and would have passed these stacks, just south of the Pentland Firth.

Dunscansby Stacks (source: Wikipedia)

I also read about the Mercat Cross in Inverness. Right in the heart of town, the Mercat Cross marks the gathering place of the market, where merchants and traders gathered, announcements were read, and sometimes public hangings or other punishments were carried out. Today, a modern sculpture topped by a unicorn and falcons honors this tradition, but then, the Mercat Cross was at the center of town, to help the stranger find his or her way.

Near the base of the Mercat Cross in Inverness, so the story goes, washerwomen hiking up from the River Ness would rest their tubs of laundry on a large stone which came to be called the clach-na-cuddaiin, or Stone of Tubs. Storytellers say as long as that stone remains in Inverness, that city will prosper.