Sunday, 24 May 2015

"How far is’t called to Forres?” "

“How far is’t called to Forres?” was Shakespeare’s Macbeth’s famous question to the three Weird Sisters, or witches. Later, like many, the women probably were tried for witchcraft in Cluny Hills Hollow or burned at the stake. Macbeth is now the name of the local prize-winning game and venison butcher. 

Seen from The Park, the nearest town, Forres, always looked quite far away to me, emotionally at least. But actually, now that I have moved to Forres, and commute everyday by bike or bus between my studio in the Park and my new home, I realise this is not true. Forres is home to Cluny Hill, to Newbold, to Transition Town and other familiar Findhorn Foundation Community organisations, businesses and people I know.

Spring, while the soil puts forth new beginnings, is a good time to move house. Blossoms smile along the streets, and in the many parks that enrich this little town and now enrich me. At Castehill Park, I feel feasted under the arch of pastel pink, ivory white and rose red Japanese cherry trees. Forres has more green to discover in depth. Grant Park, Sanquhar Woodlands, Bogton Park, Rose Garden, and Cluny Hills, with its winding paths around the four or five hills filled with woods of Scots pine and larch. 
Despite its surroundings being clothed with trees since early times, probably the name Forres neither derives from forest, as I always thought, nor from the gaelic Far-uís (near the water) but is a heritage from the time of the Roman Invasion. (My goodness, did they come this far north? What were they looking for in this rough climate and remote land, when they could indulge in sunny palaces with Roman baths with bronzed gladiators were queuing up to massage them?) Anyway, one of those Romans marked this place on the map as Varis, from which Forres derived. As said, probably. Earlier it was also probably, the Picts who erected the esteemed but mysterious Sueno’s Stone, which still stands as guardian to the north entrance of the town. More than 500 years ago, Forres was granted a charter by the king to become a Royal Burgh, although another king, oops, was murdered in its castle. Once the whole town of wooden buildings was completely destroyed by fire, once half flooded.  Alongside all this drama, there also is the glorious history of once being a chief town in Moray. I like to fantasize about all that happened here in the past, but I did not invent most of this information.  I found it in a delicate little book, written in 1894. The local library let me take it home to read. We’ll never know what was really true and what not…..

After living a decade at the seaside, with carpets of yellow gorse, broom and purple heather, with the sounds of yelling seagulls, I notice the differences in my new residence. So many other bird songs, a dawn chorus! Such different vegetation, and even different water. The Mosset Burn meanders through town before joining ‘our’ river Findhorn towards Findhorn Bay; there we are on familiar ground. As new I walk through streets with ancient buildings on soil that remembers the passions of the past. 

It is not very far, that’s for sure. Aye!

Blog 37, text and photo © Adriana Sjan Bijman, May 2015

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