Picture This: Wild Ponies Atop Traprain Law

by Keith Savage · 5 comments


Traprain Law rises like an earthen whale from the pastoral East Lothian countryside, compelling fishermen to utter its ancient name of Dunpelder under their breath as they pass round the Bass Rock. A thin dirt trail winds up the side of the hill and through the centuries into the capital of ancient Gododdin. There is a haze and a stiff sea breeze in the air as I crest the final slope, but there is no force of nature that can disperse the sense of history peeling from the turf and sun-bleached stones. The law does not give up its secrets lightly. Curie and Cree cut a hoard of Roman silver from the stone like mad surgeons seeking memories from the demented by the scalpel’s blade. 

The crest of Traprain Law is a hard ripple of shorn grass pocked with suggestive lumps and guarded by a herd of wild Exmoor ponies. In all my travels around Scotland I have seen few more beautiful sights. They wander about the law’s crown grazing, lifting their heads to me only when I come too close. I sit for a long time on a stone that once belonged to an ancient curtain wall and listen to the silence of the wind. I hear no truth but the silver drone of the beyond.


EileenNo Gravatar May 8, 2016 at 9:59 PM

I grew up at Whittingehame; we lived in the Grieve’s House on the estate, where my Dad worked on the farm. They ran sheep on the Law, and my Dad’s favourite dog, sadly, died from a fall over a cliff up there. I never climbed it; Traprain Law was just a part of the landscape to me then. We moved to Australia in 1965 when I was 10. In recent years I have learned something of the history of Traprain Law and I long to come home and explore it. Maybe one day. Images of Traprain Law and Bass Rock always tug at my heartstrings.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar May 9, 2016 at 7:51 AM

Hi Eileen,

It’s a lovely hike and view, and the history is truly magnificent. Lots of Dark Ages lore surrounding the Law. One day!

ArianwenNo Gravatar January 6, 2015 at 1:07 PM

Very pretty. I went to university in Edinburgh. Scotland is such a beautiful country.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar January 6, 2015 at 3:22 PM

I’m jealous! Knowing what I know now, I would have loved going to school in Edinburgh for a semester. For some reason I never considered studying abroad.

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