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Seeking the Stones - James. J. Lafferty
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Dunadd

In 1995, I had a desire to be at the centre of a circle of standing stones. I looked through a book, Pre-Historic Scotland (the book is an invaluable resource and gives very specific directions). In it I found a number of sites of standing stones and cairns in a place called Kilmartin Valley and decided to go there as soon as possible.

On the morning I was to go to Kilmartin, I ventured to Dunbuie (Yellow Fort), a hill on which had stood a watchtower B.C.E. As I made my way up at around seven in the morning, I took a wrong turning and found myself at the gate of a field of sheep. Suddenly, a man came up in a jeep to ascertain if I was lost. The goal was explained and, in the general run of the conversation, Kilmartin was mentioned. He then told me I should not miss Dunadd (this too was in my book, but I had not picked up on it as I had been "seeking the stones" not forts. Considering what was to transpire, this farmer takes on more of a shepherd's role.

On going to Kilmartin, I found a veritable treasure of standing stones, cairns, circles - as well as the fort. Dunadd is a hill (176 feet high) standing in the valley of the River Add. The summit is accessed through a path that worms its wayup past a house and through a stone gully. Just short of the summit, there is a rock upon which is carved the figure of a boar, ogham, and the shape of a foot. On this rock, it turns out, the the kings of Dalriada were crowned in the sixth century.

At the top of Dunadd, I was awed by a singular wind that blew eerily and the whole experience took on a spiritual hue. As I was leaving, I was taken by the numerous rocks strewn about the hill and the idea of a settlement being built up around them. The rocks imprinted on my mind.

In 1999, I returned to Dunadd with my niece, Catherine. While there, I read her a number of poems, including the poem, "Dunadd." When it came time for us to leave, Catherine said that she should take a picture of me there because I loved the place so much. I eventually agreed. She took a picture from the level beneath the peak, shooting up at me. When the film was developed upon my return to Canada, the picture from this very cheap Kodak had double-exposed to create the startling image showing myself horizontal and vertical in the same frame. Considering the earlier feeling of 1995, this image reinforces for me my special affinity with the fort on the Add.

Update - July 2006

Over the years, I have discussed my experience on Dunadd with many people trying to tease out all its potential meaning. The responses have been diverse and coloured by the varied beliefs of the respondents. On occasion, people would ask me what I thought. Here is my answer, from the very first time I saw the double-exposed image: "In my imagination, I feel that I was an Irish druid, who had converted to Christianity and had come from Ireland with Columba. As Columba would have been the spiritual head of the area (and was a cousin to one of the Dalriada kings). I feel he would have visited Dunadd and I came with him."

Having adopted the boar as an emblem, since first seeing the engraving on Dunadd (1995), I always note any information I find on the subject. Around Christmas of 2003, I was in a bookstore in Guelph, when I came across a bestiary in it there was a decent write-up on the boar and as I stood reading I almost fell over when I found the following: "The druids called themselves boars because they sought the trees for isolation." I later went on the net to search for "Druid + boar." On the seventh site, "The Druid's Path," I found a listing of totem animals, the boar was among them. I brought up the information on the boar only to decide I would not have time to read it so I printed it. Later I looked over the printout and discovered on the second page the image of a boar's head superimposed on a group of standing stones. The circle had completed. The first impulse in my gut that had brought me to Templewood and Dunadd, was contained in an image with the totemic animal that had been discovered while there. I feel my imagination has been vindicated.