Smailholm Tower – Scottish Borderlands – Queen of Ordinary, 2014

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Smailholm Tower, built in the 1500s was not one of the most impressive structures we saw in our journey through Ireland, Scotland, England, and Wales, but it was beautifully situated and served for inspiration as the backdrop for more than one famous writer.  This type of tower is referred to as a peel tower.  It is located in the Scottish Borderlands and sits atop a crag of Lady Hill, with a wide vista view of surrounding lands.

Sir Walter Scott visited his grandfather there when he was a child and spent a good deal of time at this location when he was young.  This tower provides the setting for Sir Walter Scott’s ballad, The Eve of St. John.    His sketch of the tower was include in Scott’s Poetical Works. 

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Margaret J. Anderson, who wrote the children’s novel In the Keep of Time, used Smailholm Tower as the location for the adventure in which four English children experience time travel both backwards and forwards.

One of the pioneers of photography, Fox Talbot, photographed Smailholm Tower as part of his collection, Sun Pictures in Scotland.

I particularly liked the lay of the land around the tower.  The view was stunning and peaceful looking out in every direction at land that gently rolled away.  I also found a beautiful door to photograph, which made the experience a well rounded one.

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This structure made me realize that inspiration comes from many things for writers, photographers, singers, and artists.  Smailholm was neither grand nor luxurious, but it has made an impact on people through the years.  If we are open to inspiration, it may come to us in places we least expect.

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Some Say the Irish Saved the World – Queen of Ordinary – November 4, 2014

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One of the stops on our journey was to see the Book of Kells and visit the Trinity COllege Library in Dublin, Ireland.  I have never seen a more spectacular library filled with ancient volumes.  The most famous book housed at Trinity, The Book of Kells, is an illuminated manuscript that dates from somewhere between 600 – 900 A.D.

The book was produced by hand with vibrant drawings and “illuminations” on thinly pressed and prepared pages of calf skin.  It contains the four gospels of the Bible and more.

There was a time in human history when the Roman Empire sought to take over the world.  One of their tactics was to destroy all written material.  As we can imagine, each volume was handwritten, hand bound, and a true treasure in its time period.  One of Rome’s tactics was to destroy and burn all the books they could get their hands on.  Wipe out knowledge.  Wipe out culture.  Wipe out religious beliefs.  Rewrite history, culture, knowledge, and religion to fit their interpretation.  Thousands of books from all over the European Region controlled by Rome were burned.

The Irish trained and began to send out missionaries to gather all the books from the far corners of the earth that they could get their hands on.  A thousand were trained for these purposes and went forward into the world of the dark ages to gather and save the “forbidden knowledge” recorded in books.  Although vastly incomplete compared to things destroyed, the number of books that were preserved along with the culture, history, and religious journey of those who inhabited the region were preserved in the books brought back from afar by the Irish monks (missionaries) who gathered them.  In that sense, the Irish did save the world – from ignorance, from brainwashing, from a rewritten history of lies.

It is worrisome to me that some people today are on the same crazy path, trying to rewrite history to a more convenient truth – leaving out atrocities like the Holocaust.  Some have taken it on themselves to rewrite the Bible and leave out the parts that differ with their own dogma.  The history of our world, our peoples of the world, our faiths, our disgraces, and our triumphs should be told and preserved without any thought of political correctness or whom the truth might offend.  It is over, done, past whether it was right or wrong in the time it was taking place.  Future generations should learn from the good and the bad.  A series for skewed lies and accounts of the past is a huge discredit to all of mankind.

We should all cherish our rights to read what is written, to speak and write the truth according to our understanding, and to learn from what has been recorded and preserved by others.  Book burning is an atrocity of the very worst kind.  Perhaps the Irish truly did save the world when they saw the need to gather and preserve as much of the written word as possible.