Bookan…. Tibet….. They’re At It Again….

by Bernie Bell - 10:28 on 24 April 2023


The clue is in the title….


My tuppenceworth….of Bookan and belly-buttons…. previously published here… https://theorkneynews.scot/2017/04/06/bernie-bell-orkney-walks-with-stories-the-procession/

“The hitch in The Procession happens now as, at time of writing, there is no path to take you to Bookan.  There is the ‘right to roam’ law in Scotland so, if you can get over or under fences you could have a go but maybe it’s easier, and more polite to the landowners, to detour onto the road a bit.

You can turn off on a track to the left to visit Bookan Cairn if you wish…..

…..or just carry on up the hill to Bookan Henge.

There’s a big house on the right, just by the road,  where it will be polite to ask for permission to visit the site.  When we first went there we asked  for permission to go to the henge and the lady we spoke to was friendly and very happy for us to do so.  The last time I went, with friend Jeanne, the house had changed hands and, fortunately, the man was just as friendly and helpful.  I’m all for ‘right to roam’ but, maybe because I’m from farming family, I also believe in asking permission, if possible.  It’s just manners.

The gate to the field which contains Bookan is on the left hand side of the road, just a little bit farther along.

You’ll find a grassy henge monument, with a stone thing in the middle.   What a place!!  If you can get there as the light is fading, in the winter, and look about you……………………you’ll see why I feel that The Procession ended here.

A few years ago I went on an Art/Archaeology day and we started at Bookan and walked down to Brodgar.   The Procession in reverse!  At that time, when I was standing at Bookan, this is what came to me:-

‘Omphalos.  The navel.  The navel from which the body of Neolithic Orkney spreads out.  There’s no ‘way in’ or ‘way out’, as the way in and out, are from inside.’

 This is just what was in my head.  I think I ‘get’ the idea of the navel, but I can’t honestly say that I know what the stuff about the way in and way out means, as I say, it’s just what came into my head.  Possibly it’s to do with the idea of Bookan being the goal, as in, if people came to Orkney on a pilgrimage, and they did all the things they were meant to do, then they walked the route which I’ve mentioned before, starting at Barnhouse ‘village’, and ending up at Bookan, this would change them in some way, which would mean that the ‘way in’ and/or/  ‘way out’, would be achievable.  Maybe the ‘way in’ to themselves, as in many pilgrimages and meditative practices, today.   Maybe this was the idea behind it.

I’m put in mind of El Camino de Santiago in Spain. A walk which ends at Santiago de Compostella.  The idea there is that you do the  (very long!) walk, ending at Santiago and learn along the way - learn about yourself - and access what’s inside you which, hopefully, helps a person to see more clearly and be a better person.  Knowing yourself helps a person a lot in knowing other, and dealing with the world.  As I always say, maybe yes, maybe no, but it makes sense to me and I get the feeling that that’s the idea.  Whether it’s so, or not, that’s what came into my head on Saturday morning.  Omphalos, the navel, and the way in and the way out, is inside.  Inside the place, or inside the person, or inside the person, once they’ve connected fully with the place.

Then I had further thoughts about belly-buttons!

Inside the curve of the 'belly button'

Belly-buttons are odd things.  They’re sort-of a way into your body, and they’re sort-of a way out of your body, but they’re not.  It’s still an aperture, sort-of.  And, it links us to our Mother, and her Mother, and her Mother, and so on and so on, back, back , back, to the first Mother.  Is this something of what Bookan is about?  I don’t know, it’s just thoughts that occur to me, and what I feel about the place.  Some kind of belly-button!

I’m now  certain of the importance of Bookan.  What a place!   We tend to feel that we’d like to experience these places in isolation, but that’s just not realistic.  It’s too easy to see crowds of people as some kind of infestation - but they’re not, they’re just other people - trying to connect with the same thing as you are – as they would have been back when it was a Pilgrimage site.  Those making their pilgrimage would have experienced these places, surrounded by other people.  For all I know, it might make the experience stronger.”



Mike and I support ‘Free Tibet’ as we believe that Tibet should independent and free from the control of the Chinese Government who are basically bullies and a harm-full force in the world…..


I read about  the Dalai Lama offering to let a boy suck his tongue and I thought “Poor old thing, he’s gone cuckoo”.  The Dalai Lama is 87 years old and it might be a good idea for him to step back from the role, if that is allowed.

Or maybe, for now, he could avoid making public appearances.

Either way – it’s hard to believe that he meant harm by his behaviour – he’s just losing it a bit and might be best away from public life.

Tibet has enough problems without getting bad press because of the actions of its spiritual leader - in exile - who very probably didn’t realise what he was doing.



They’re At It Again….

…cutting down trees for no good reason.  And the company that wants to do so is called ‘Human Nature’ – no comment needed!

Oppose the plans for the wholesale felling of mature trees in Lewes

Please oppose the wholesale cutting down of the trees in the green corridor at the entrance into Lewes!

The company Human Nature have submitted their planning application to develop the Phoenix industrial estate in Lewes.

The developer is planning to cut down most of the trees on the industrial estate and all the trees along the Phoenix Causeway (on the left hand side as you walk from the town towards the bridge). See their plan below.

These mature trees house a host of wildlife (birds, insects, small mammals), provide oxygenation to a heavy traffic area and constitute a valuable amenity to the town of Lewes that is not replaceable by the puny landscaping the developer is proposing to put in its place.

As Andy Egan, the Head of Conservation Policy at the Woodland Trust puts it: “The older a tree is, the more wildlife it supports, the more carbon it sequesters, and the better the canopy is. Mature trees are not replaceable with a sapling. There seems to be no appreciation that the starting point for regeneration or redevelopment should be designing around the nature that is already there.”

All the trees along the Phoenix Causeway are covered by Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs). Tree Preservation Orders are most commonly used for urban and semi-urban settings, and for trees with high ‘amenity’ or ‘nature conservation value’. As Lewes District Council state in their website: “A TPO is applied to protect trees which bring significant amenity benefit to the local area.”

However, TPOs can be overridden by a planning application if the relevant authority agrees.

Note: the TPOs make allowance for a developer’s creating an entry into the site from the Causeway, so there is absolutely no need to fell all of the trees as Human Nature are intending to do. 

The Lewes Arboretum i-Tree ecosurvey shows that as we stand we only have 11.5% tree canopy cover in Lewes, while the minimum recommendation for urban environments is 20%. Click here for a link to the survey

Please join us in letting the South Downs planning authority know that we do not agree to the trees being felled. Sign this petition and let others know of it too.

You can also make representations about the application. It is important that as many of us as possible object as this will make the planners take notice.

You can tell the planners your views in the following ways: 

·      on-line at https://planningpublicaccess.southdowns.gov.uk/online-applications/

·      in writing to the South Downs National Park Authority, South Downs Centre, North Street, Midhurst, West Sussex GU29 9DH

·      by emailing planning@southdowns.gov.uk 

Remember to quote the case reference number SDNP/23/00526/OUT

The deadline for comments has now been extended to Friday26 May 2023.”

Sign now with a click



“Bats presence detected and deadline extension

The developer's own ecological survey has identified the presence of multiple species of bats feeding and commuting among the trees of the Phoenix Causeway (as well as roosting in the building just behind Green Wall) (see document called 'Appendices to Chapter 10 of Environmental Assessment Volume 3'). Bats are a protected species by law and their habitat should not be destroyed. These trees are not replaceable. 

Any habitat work, however minimal, won't in any case take place until Phase 3 (expected to be completed in 2032) while demolition and felling is in Phase 1 (due to be carried out by 2024) - years apart (see Human Nature Environmental Statement Vol.2, pp.6-26). This is just derelection of duty towards the environment.

I would urge you to make your objection in writing to the planners. It doesn't matter how short - just make your feelings and thoughts known. The deadline has been extended to Friday 26th May so there is still time. Details on where to send your comments are in the main body of the petition.”


Here’s one I made earlier…. https://theorkneynews.scot/2021/01/09/bernies-stories-skaill-house-2/



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