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Showing posts from June, 2012

Moorland Fires Again

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Sunset Fire Watercolour 18 x 26 cm


We've just had a couple of serious moorland fires again in Caithness. They've been put out now with the help of the rain, but I expect they will smoulder for a while yet. Once the fire gets into the peat it can burn underground for a long time. I don't know how these started. It's too late to be moorland management so I expect it was accidental: just throwing a cigarette out of a car window can be enough. It's strange that we had no fires when the weather was warm and dry recently, but we've had them now that it's cloudy and cold.

I didn't get out to see the recent fires: I don't like "ambulance-chasing" in any case, but this painting was from another one that I sketched a few years ago. From a painter's point of view the smoke and the setting sun combined to make a wonderful subject.

Brochs

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Dun Telve Broch, Glenelg Watercolour 25 x 36 cm


Throughout the Highlands and Islands of Scotland there are the remains of ancient round towers, called brochs. The best-preserved ones are in the Orkney Isles, but there are some impressive examples on the mainland in Glenelg, in Wester Ross.

These mysterious towers were built during the Iron Age and experts disagree over what they were used for. They seem to be defensive structures, but they may been intended to show off the wealth or power of their owners.

The most complete of the surviving brochs are around 25 metres tall, but they may originally have been higher than that. The walls were hollow with staircases ingeniously built into them to give access to upper levels. There were no windows and just a small, low doorway. They were built of stone and amazingly no mortar was used to hold them together. The fact that they have survived at all, after two thousand years, is a testament to the skills of their builders.