Our Scotland visit will begin with a tour of all things Outlander.
My heritage is Scot-Irish, so I'm looking forward to tracing my Campbell and Idol roots. I know my Campbell relatives have been in the Midwest states since the mid-1800s, but I haven't been able to trace them back further, so hopefully Scotland records will help me find when they immigrated.
And, speaking of research, Book 2 of my Ancient Magic series will be set in Scotland, and deciding on the exact site is the main purpose of this trip. The characters and plot can be written from my imagination, but an actual site visit is what "anchors" the book and gives it authenticity.
Will the story be set at the Ring of Brodgar? With its prehistoric sun and moon temples, this is the heartland of the Neolithic North, a bleak, mysterious place that has made Orkney Island a magnet for archaeologists, historians and other researchers for decades. We're spending three days in Orkney, including a guided tour of the archaeological excavations on the Ness of Brodgar. These sites pre-date both Stonehenge and Avebury by some 500 years.
Orkney is actually closer to Norway than to London. It's only 50 miles south of Greenland and begins where the North Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean. I'm told the area feels like the end of edge of the world, and I can't wait to see it in person.
Maybe the story will journey to the Callanish Stones on the Isle of Lewis, a complex of megalithic stones laid out in the shape of a Celtic cross, with astronomical alignments that feature vividly in this sacred landscape. One of the stones is estimated to be three billion years old. That gives me shivers!
This landscape temple and its satellite sites makes up a lunar observatory created as an ancient power center to witness the major lunar standstill that occurs only once every 18.6 years (The next lunar standstill will take place in 2025). Two of our tour guides live in this area, so hopefully they will have many little-known tales to tell.
Or perhaps the book will originate in Iona, the home of one of the Book of Kells (circa AD 800), one of the finest illuminated manuscripts over created. When the Vikings sacked the island and its monastery in the late eighth century, the monks secreted the book off to safety in Ireland, but the rest of their entire library of knowledge went under the sea.
Iona is believed by some to be the Yew Island of the Druids, the sacred isle known as 'Tir nan Og, the land of youth, and the 'Otherworld." Such a lot of expectations to live up to!
The Inner Hebredes are separated from the Outer Hebrides by the Minch, a treacherous strait of water on the northwest coast. Famous supernatural inhabitants, called the Blue Men, are said to guard the strait. Something like 'mermen', the blue men tribe live in deep underwater caves and swim alongside ships passing the Sound of Shiant, luring sailors into the sea and creating storms to wreck ships. Some say they are fallen angels. I say they sound like the perfect subjects for a short story between novels!
I'll be posting musings and pictures of our Scotland travels for the next three weeks. I hope you will join me to learn more about our travels through Sacred Scotland.