Picture This: On Duddingston Loch

by Keith Savage · 8 comments


The grassy backside of Arthur’s Seat swoops to a line of trees hiding a staircase that leads down, through the ages, to the town of Duddingston. Each footfall on the village’s cobbles sends years rushing past me on the breeze. Everywhere I look there are plaques inset in the stone walls with bits of folk wisdom, like the turquoise one about Jock Tamson’s bairns. A light rain falls, and I pop into the green-and-white Sheep Heid Inn for a drink, shake off the cold. Afterward, I’m among the ancient tombstones overflowing the kirkyard’s stone arms, just like a million souls before me, looking at the names.

Names are the cords of our parachutes, the ropes of our anchors, diaphanous fall lines that stretch across the chasms of time. On my return to Edinburgh, I turn around to look over Duddingston Loch. The town’s old, Celtic Brythonic name was Treverlen, and there were crannogs here. What was its name before then? I am pulling up carpeting to reveal linoleum and peeling that back to reveal hardwood. And then nothing; these places have no names. We have simply agreed upon this net we’ve cast over the world and ourselves. It is safer this way, with the truth hidden. Each life, a great migration of forgetfulness, an untethered cartwheel through space.

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Marysia @ My Travel AffairsNo Gravatar January 2, 2014 at 2:35 PM

Didn’t know your pictures are on sale! I remember seeing one I really liked few months ago, will try to find it now 🙂

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Keith SavageNo Gravatar January 2, 2014 at 5:08 PM

This is a problem I need to address. 🙂

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Marysia @ My Travel AffairsNo Gravatar January 2, 2014 at 6:11 PM

Definitely! I would never know! And you have some really nice shots!

Didn’t know your pictures are on sale! I remember seeing one I really liked few months ago, will try to find it now 🙂

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ChrisNo Gravatar April 21, 2013 at 11:07 AM

Stumbled upon your blog and it has only intensified my desire to explore Scotland in detail. The name “Arthur’s Seat” intrigued me and I went out searching for the origin of the name and more about the geologic feature itself. I find you can’t research that without coming across the story of the tiny coffins. Intriguing. And then today the following Smithsonian blog popped into my mailbox: http://tinyurl.com/d68fge7

It is all about the coffins and the speculation surrounding them. Thought you might be interested.

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Gayla~No Gravatar April 18, 2013 at 3:00 AM

‘Names are the cords of our parachutes, the ropes of our anchors, diaphanous fall lines that stretch across the chasms of time…’ are apt descriptions. I’m fascinated by names and their histories. A connection we have with the past, a place and people.
BTW, another beautiful image!

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Keith SavageNo Gravatar April 18, 2013 at 9:07 AM

Thanks, Gayla, appreciate the words!

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Paisley KirkpatrickNo Gravatar April 11, 2013 at 11:36 PM

I’ve been enjoying all of your posts for it seems like months. You send such beautiful photos to dream over and great narrative to go with them. My Mother’s ancestory arrived here in the states several generations ago from Scotland. My hubby and I had the good fortune to spend twenty-three days exploring the Highlands a few years ago. In fact, when we road the boat from Inverness to Loch Ness, I felt like I’d come home. Scotland is so beautiful and I feel so blessed to have the ancestors to have left their mark on me.

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Keith SavageNo Gravatar April 12, 2013 at 8:52 AM

Hi Paisley- thanks for the kind words! I know the feeling of which you speak. I noticed it the first time I landed in Edinburgh when I was 22. I still don’t know if it was something of my own conjuration, or something more mysterious. Whatever the case, I’ve been back to Scotland eight times in a ten years, and I think that journey speaks for itself.

Thanks for reading.

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