Love….. Connections & Lost Worlds…. On The Subject Of ‘Lost’ Worlds…. The Eagle Cairn…

by Bernie Bell - 08:47 on 18 February 2023


I maintain that being good to each other isn’t just for Valentine’s Day – preferably, it’s on-going - a way of being with each other.

Bartholomew Barker writes of real folk, again….

How could I love thee?

When you'd smack your lips
as you ate apple pie
When you'd snore through the night
'til the sun rose in the sky
When you'd drum your fingers
or bite your nails
When you'd order extra onions
or drive past yard sales

But I knew I loved you
because you'd smile at my bad jokes
apologize with flowers
and hold me under the umbrella
during April showers

And as our sundial decays to rust
our garden blooms with well earned trust


Which took me to something I wrote a few years ago…

“Time to Re-assess..........

We recently watched a ( recorded) programme about Seamus Heaney, entitled ‘Seamus Heaney and the Music of What Happens’.  Seamus Heaney and his family lived in Northern Ireland, during the ‘Troubles’ – a time when, if you were in the wrong place, wrong time – you could get shot. 

In this programme his wife, Marie, read out a poem which he wrote for her………


Masons, when they start upon a building,
Are careful to test out the scaffolding;

Make sure that planks won’t slip at busy points,
Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints.

And yet all this comes down when the job’s done
Showing off walls of sure and solid stone.

So if, my dear, there sometimes seem to be
Old bridges breaking between you and me

Never fear. We may let the scaffolds fall
Confident that we have built our wall.


This reminded me of a poem which Mike wrote for me….


The two old oaks stand on the bank and grow

More close as each succeeding year goes by

Their boughs reach out and touch as sap doth flow

And now at last entwine and softly sigh


So why, my Dear, do I think now of you?

So quick, alive and full of deeds and words

Is it, perhaps, the play of light and hue

Of leaf and trunk and branch alive with birds?


Or else their stately steadfast standing firm

Is like your certain loving nature, strong

As we together grow in love full term

And dream deep-rooted love that lasts so long


Now truth there is in all these words above

But more, I know that we’ll grow old in love


Then,  we watched the first of a series by Grayson Perry  https://www.channel4.com/press/news/graysons-art-club  in which Grayson speaks of portraiture, and does a series of drawings of his wife, Philippa, culminating in a portrait on a plate. 

He says that Lock-down, and these times that we’re living through - when, if you’re in the wrong place, wrong time, you might catch a bug which can kill you -  could be a  time to re-assess and look at how we are with who we live with.

I think we’re doing that.  I can’t speak for Mike, but I know that I’m doing that - re-assessing and appreciating what we have, and so, those two poems connected, in my mind.

The scaffolding of the early times has gone, it’s no longer needed – the wall stands, and the oaks stand.

If we can just manage to …stand… for the next few months. No – the next few months isn’t all that matters – what stands, stands. It’s  just …there. Part of LIFE.”


Connections & Lost Worlds…

Having finished Susan Cooper’s  ‘The Dark Is Rising’ series, I thought it would be a good idea to follow them with something quite different.  The Sherlock Holmes stories came to mind – familiar, but a long time since I read them.  Looking along the bookshelf I came across ‘The Lost World‘ by Arthur Conan Doyle, which I have never read. 

As is often the case, connections came to mind…. the character of Sherlock Holmes is thought have been to some extent based on Dr. Joseph Bell, an eminent Edinburgh surgeon under whom Conan Doyle had studied medicine and who was known for using deductive reasoning in clinical diagnosis.  Dr Joseph Bell was/is some kind of distant cousin of Mike’s family!

I have a high regard for Dr. Euan Mackie https://theorkneynews.scot/2020/11/13/a-personal-tribute-to-dr-euan-mackie-and-his-work/ and in the book he was working on at the time of his death he equated the trials of the fictional Professor Challenger – who attended Edinburgh University -  with the trials of Professor Alexander Thom, naming the book  ‘Professor Challenger and his Lost Neolithic World:  the compelling story of Alexander Thom and British archeoastronomy”.  https://theorkneynews.scot/2022/03/21/professor-challenger-and-his-lost-neolithic-world/

If you read Euan’s introduction to his book you’ll see why.

Lost worlds and times feature strongly in  ‘The Dark Is Rising’ - Conan Doyle’s ‘Lost World’ looked like a good choice, and so I have embarked on a journey into another kind of different world.


I started reading and can see - and hear! - Brian Blessed playing Prof. Challenger in a film of ‘The Lost World’ – he’d be perfect!


When the expeditionary party encounter what the narrator refers to as ‘Ape-men’ and note the physical resemblance between them and Professor Challenger, I was thinking - as I’ve often thought before - tidy our distant ancestors up a bit, put a suit on them, and who could tell the difference?

As with the chap on the tube in this piece by Steve Drury….





And I quote…..

“Everyone basically told me, ‘Oh no you’re making it up you’re wasting your time you’re wasting British Museum UK government funding’ – that’s what they were telling me,”


On The Subject Of ‘Lost’ Worlds…..

‘Retired’ edition of the Ness of Brodgar guide - going cheap on-line!.....


Get it while you can.  Better still - get a copy of The Book….



The Eagle Cairn…

Here’s a co-incidence…..on Thursday, I had an exchange with someone I know who was remembering his visit to the Tomb of the Eagles 35 years ago, and how much being able to actually handle the artefacts, especially the human bones, left a lasting impression on him – he wrote….

“I was shown that women's foreheads showed clear signs of a life of toil, carrying heavy loads with a head rope, and distorted feet from continual use of querns. It's an experience you never forget.”

And I replied….

The Tomb of the Eagles closed for Lockdown, then when there was a possibility of re-opening the family who own and care for the site decided that they wouldn’t re-open.

There is talk of the artefacts going to Tankerness House Museum – which I feel would be a shame, as Kirkwall  is quite a distance from the Cairn and the folk who lived and live there. Of course, the cairn will still be there being what it is and what it has been for millenia – but the experience of visiting - and connecting, will be gone.  

Mike and I went back for a last visit, but I didn’t write of the visit for public consumption, as it was too personal.” 

Then, on Friday on the Orkney Archaeology Society Facebook page I saw this…..


Here are my past ramblings about the place I refer to as The Eagle Cairn…

Bernie Bell: Orkney Walks (with stories) – The Eagle Cairn

An Appreciation of John Hedges: An Archaeologist

The Tomb of the Eagles

A Tale Of The Eagle Cairn

I have mixed feelings – very mixed feelings.

‘A Bird In The Hand’ by McB 


Here’s one I made earlier….  https://theorkneynews.scot/2020/01/13/poetry-corner-vaping/


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