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11 Jul 2019

Morton Writing Competition – Part III: The Tower / Farpais Sgrìobhaidh Mhorton – Pàirt III: An Tùr

Written by Lily Barnes – Morton Documentation and Digitisation Officer
A black and white photograph of a window in the wall of a stone tower. Light streams through the window, illuminating the room.
The Tower window, Kellie Castle (1906) / Uinneag an Tùir, Caisteal Kellie (1906) © National Trust for Scotland, Kellie Castle
We asked you to write short stories and poems in response to one of four images from our photographic collections. Here are the winners and runners-up who were inspired by ‘The Tower’. Dh’iarr sinn oirbh sgeulachdan goirid agus bàrdachd a sgrìobhadh a’ togail air ìomhaighean às an tasglann againn. Seo an fheadhainn a bhuannaich agus a bha san dàrna àite a thagh ‘An Tùr’.

Echoes

Bill Cox

I tak a seat on the auld wuiden chair, its struts creakin juist like my aged bones dae fan I pit wecht on ‘em. Ootside the sun is shinin as spring turns intae summer, the craws croakin awa as they flitter atween the estate’s trees. Ootbys I can mak oot the soond o children playin. The music o life.

The sunlicht comes in through the windae, splittin the room intae areas o shadow an illumination, but it feels like a hauf-hearted attempt by the sun that kens that some places shouldna be exposed to its revealin glare. Some things need tae stay hidden.

I like it up here in the tower. I’ve wirked for the estate since I wis a bairn and thae days are lang ahint me. It wis as a chile that I first came up here tae the auldest part o the castle. The heid bummer haed me clearin oot the room wi ma faither. I mind how dusty an auncient awthing leukit, relics fae days gone past.

I wis left up here tae sort through some stuff on my ain an at wis the first time I heard the voices. I wis feart firstlins as I thocht it wis the bogles oot tae get me, comin tae drag me awa tae hell. Bit ower time I realised that the voices warna really gabbin tae me. Fit I wis hearin wis echoes fae ither times.

Inside these rotund stane waws, damp tae the touch, memories persist. Fan I think o a the fowk fa hae bidden here ower the centuries and a the great events and tragedies they lived through, it’s nae surprise tae me that they left their mark on this building.

Frae the Wars o Independence through the Jacobite Rebellion and the birth o a warld-spannin Empire, it was a witnessed by thaim that lived atween these waws. The shades o a those fowk, aw their lives, their jealousies an ecstasies, were absorbed by the waws o this room. I’ve nae idea why only I can hearken them, ay but there it is. Fears and lauchter runnin through the crystalline rock that shuts this space aff fae the rest o the warld.

Mebbe ane day someone else will sit here and it will be ma voice they will hear, a the wye fae the year o Our Lord Nineteen Hunder an Six. Bytimes I wunner if there will be a future, whit wi the wars an rumours o war that plague oor age.

Onyweys, here I am, in this room wi a thir shades, or mebbe I’m no really here at a, an it’s you that’s sittin on that auld chair; watching the licht no quite enter the room, wunnerin aboot thae voices fae lang ago, the lives they led, the dreams they dreamit…an fit happent tae them ance their time o flesh was ower.

Runner-up in the Scots category

An Rùm Falamh

Elizabeth MacLean

Tha an rùm brònach. Chan eil duine sam bith a’ tighinn a-steach, rùm gun ghaol… ach… aon latha dh’fhosgail an doras agus thàinig spliongaid le rudan seunta na bhroinn.

Mionaid no dhà às dèidh sin, thàinig bana-phrionnsa Ealasaid le dreasa gu math fada agus uamhasach bòidheach oirre. Mhothaich Ealasaid an cnap spliongaid, thòisich e a’ gluasad agus nochd creutair-fànais neònach. Thuit Ealasaid leis an eagal agus leig i sgreuch, leig an creutair sgreuch cuideachd. Chuala an rìgh agus a’ bhan-rìgh na fuaimean eagalach agus ruith iad suas dhan a rùm.

“Dè tha thu ag iarraidh?” dh’fhaighnich an rìgh.

“Tha mi ag iarraidh obair”, thuirt an creutair-fànais.

“Tha sinn a dhìth air taic anns a’ chidsin le na soithichean” thuirt a’ bhan-rìgh, “ach chan urrainn dhut draoidheachd a chleachdadh.”

“Seallaidh mi dhut far a bheil an cidsin” thuirt an rìgh.

“Ealasaid, feumaidh tu falbh airson an sgoil mus bi thu anmoch” thuirt a’ bhan-rìgh.

Mhothaich Ealasaid gu robh soitheach-fànais anns a’ ghàrradh agus leum i a-steach gu luath agus dh’fhalbh i gu sgoil – thug i am beàrn-phàirceadh aig a’ cheannard!

Aig trì uairean, leum Ealasaid a-steach dhan soitheach-fànais a-rithist agus dh’fhalbh i dhachaigh. Air ais aig a’ chaisteal agus mhothaich i bhan poileis le solasan dearg agus gorm a’ deàrrsadh.

Bha an creutair-fànais fo chasaid na poileis agus dh’fhalbh iad leis anns an bhan. Chùm a’ bhana-phrionnsa Ealasaid an soitheach-fànais, ach bha aice ri na soithichean a dhèanamh a h-uile latha!

Runner-up in the Gaelic 0–11 category / Dàrna àite sa Ghàidhlig aois 0–11
(A magical visitor from outer space transforms Princess Elizabeth’s life, but it isn’t long before she and her new friend are in trouble.)

Bràigh

Jamie Brown

Tha mi stòlda. Tha mi fliuch. Tha na ballachan a’ dùnadh orm agus chan urrainn dhomh m’ anail fhaighinn. ’S urrainn dhomh m’ fhuil a chluinntinn a’ gluasad mun cuairt mo bhothaig. Tha e cho sàmhach a-nis. Tha mi a’ coimhead mun cuairt ach chan eil solas sam bith ann. ’S urrainn dhomh fàileadh neònach fhaireachdainn a’ dol tro mu chuinnleanan. Fàileadh mar fhuil, ach, ùr… Tha mi air mo chlisgeadh. Tha mo chridhe cha mhòr a’ buaileadh a-mach asam. Tha mi cho sgìth. Tha ceann gort agam. ’S urrainn dhomh pian fhaireachdainn a’ ruith tromham bho bun gu bàrr. Chuir mi mo làmh thairis m’ aodann agus dh’fhairich mi pìosan glainne a’ pròdadh mo chraiceann agus am fuil a’ sruthadh mar dheòir. Tha e mar gu bheil an aodann agam a’ tighinn dheth. Tha e cho gort. Tha mo chasan air an ceangal le ropa fhliuch. Am pian.

Tha am fuachd uabhasach. Gach turas a bhios mi feuchainn gus anail a tharraing, ’s urrainn dhomh m’ amhaich a’ faireachdainn a’ reothadh. ’S urrainn dhomh solas fhaicinn. An tig mi a-mach à seo beò? An tèid mo shabhaladh? ’S urrainn dhomh cuideigin a chluinntinn. Tha blas-cainnt làidir aige. ’S e duine aosd a th’ ann. Fireannach. ’S dòcha Rùiseanach? Gearmailteach? An Laitbhia? Chan eil fhios ’am. Tha e a’ faighinn nas fhaisge. Na ceumannan gu math trom agus ann le priobadh na sùla ’s urrainn dhomh deòir a’ faireachdainn a’ ruith sìos m’ aodann agus a-steach gu mo chluasan. Dh’fheuch mi gus tionndadh, ach gun fheum. Feumaidh nach eil seo fìor, gu bheil mi ann an aisling, ann an saoghal eile. Ach cha robh.

’S urrainn dhomh làmhan searghte fhaireachdainn air m’ aodann, a’ gluasad sìos gu m’ amhaich gu slaodach. Ràinig iad mo chasan agus a-nis bha e a’ faireachdainn glè neònach. Bha e làidir. Tha greim làidir aige agus thòisich e na cluasan aige a ghluasad suas gu mo mhionach. Tha e a’ tarraing anailean glè throm, a’ fàs nas luaithe mus stad e. Tha e a’ sgreuchail rudan ann an cànan neònach. Chan eil fios agam dè tha a’ tachairt. Chan eil e a’ stad, tha e a’ fàs cho dearg ri ubhal. Tha e a’ tionndadh purpaidh. Tha e fhathast a’ sgreuchail, ach, an uairsin, stad e. Tha an talla air fad cho sàmhach. Ruith e air falbh ach tha làn fhios agam nach eil e deiseil. ’S urrainn dhomh stuthan meatailt a chluinntinn air fàire. Tha e a’ faighinn nas fhaisge.

Stad mo chridhe airson tiotan. Tha fios agam dè tha dol a tachairt. Leum e orm. Dh’fheuch mi gus “stad! stad!” a sgreuchail, ach cha b’ urrainn dhomh. Bha e mar gu robh clach nam amhach. Thòisich mi a’ rànaich, ach leig mi suas. Tha an saoghal agam a’ tuiteam mun cuairt orm. Stòlda, ach sùilean fosgailte. Chan urrainn dhomh gluasad. ’S e an deireadh a tha seo.

An deireadh.

Runner-up in the Gaelic 12–17 category / Dàrna àite sa Ghàidhlig aois 12–17
(The protagonist is held captive, bound and bleeding, uncertain how they’ve ended up in this situation and fearing that there may be no means of escape, as terrifying captors shout and interrogate them.)

The Sanctuary

Carol Ross

The morning sun glints hesitantly through the blackened sky, 
Ravens scavenge, seaweed glistens,
Otters dive and seabirds cry, high above the soaring cliffs.

And through gloom, the castle walls stand proud and strong, 
Stark against the rising tide,
And from an archway bathed in light, 
I shelter where I might have died…

Runner-up in the English 18+ category

See the responses to ‘The Kirkcudbright Girls’ in Part IV

Faic na pìosan air am brosnachadh le ‘Clann-nighean Chille Chuithbeirt’ ann am Pàirt IV.

Special thanks to the Gaelic Books Council for their assistance with judging, and their generous offer to provide prizes for the Gaelic runners-up. If these stories have made you interested in learning Gaelic, find out more about the work of the Gaelic Books Council or find them on Twitter at @LeughLeabhar

The Morton Charitable Trust has been funding fieldwork on the National Trust for Scotland’s photographic collections since 2014. In 2018–19, this work will further raise the profile of the collections through research, articles, talks and dedicated projects. The project will also involve the digitisation of the Margaret Fay Shaw photographic archive of mid-20th-century Hebridean life, leading to an updated database with high-quality images.

Banner of four different images: Kellie Castle tower; two girls; cat and crayfish; small boy in front of wall