Balvenie Castle stands hunched and worn like an old clansman in a faded tartan. The Speyside spring has been unseasonably cold, and here in the twilight outside Dufftown fat raindrops lance down from clouds trying to make snow. The festivities at Glenfiddich Distillery would soon begin, so my father and I kill time in an empty lot as the windshield wipers click back and forth, clearing away rain like the fog of memory. For almost a thousand years this castle, once called Mortlach, has withstood the rain. I stand with the car door open and shield my camera; it doesn’t take much imagination to see the ghosts.
Castles like Mortlach hail from another world. Our bodies replace themselves every seven years, but Mortlach’s bones may never disappear. All the better. Eventually we will forget what it means, the little packet of lore will be severed from the object. Maybe the earth will swallow it as it did the dinosaurs and places like Skara Brae, or maybe humanity will have its millennia of accumulated knowledge zeroed out. Whatever the path Mortlach takes, once it has been forgotten it can be discovered, and so a little bit of wonder will come back into the world.