The Bear and the Ship
Du, at rides da gray
An' rins da red;
Tell Tona Tivla
At Fona Fivla
Is fa'en ida vjelna vatna.
– so runs the old legend from the Shetland island of Fetlar, telling of a message that an old crofter is told to carry by a mysterious voice in the gloaming.
Who is it who rides da gray an rins da red? Where is the vjelna vatna? And why did Fona Fivla fall into it?
The search for the answer takes us to a 2000-year-old tale from the Greek island of Paxos – and then up into the skies above ancient Egypt. But it is in the Siberian night that the solution starts to appear – and the old crofter with the horses turns out to be someone very significant. So too do two stars in Ursa Minor.
Howie Firth told the story of how folklore can sometimes hold the clues to ancient astronomy.
The Bear and the Ship took place in two very pleasant venues:
The Old Inn, Gairloch – with its warm hearth and local seafood, and the nearby burn flowing from the Flowerdale Glen
The Old Brewery, Cromarty – in a snug room with comfortable chairs, in a building with light and shadow on stone walls
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