Memory hold-the-door

This film is an artistic representation of a visit to the house that John Buchan was born in. Peter and Sian visited 20 York Place, Perth on Saturday 16th September 2017.

Memory hold-the-door from omphalos

Music credit: Scott Walker Revisited and the BBC Proms

The only absolute non-stops

This film is about the road over the Capel o’ Mount in Scotland and a ruined Inn called Knowegreens.

The Only Absolute Non-Stops from omphalos

Music credits:
(1) ‘Beyond the Strath’ – by James Ross
(2) ‘For one night only’ – by King Creosote

Radio clip: from BBC Radio Scotland “Thought for the Day” late 2106.

Correction Wynd

My view is that to go forwards one really has to appreciate backwards.

[The film is about identity – can it be found in a name – and questions what belonging to a place really means] [forgive the narcissism]

It is a film partly based on serendipity.

Correction Wynd from omphalos

The two key locations are:
(1) Correction Wynd, Aberdeen
(2) Gauch farm, Cabrach, Aberdeenshire.

Music credits:
(1) ‘Rare Species’ – The National Jazz Trio of Scotland
(2) ‘Oh Me Oh My’ – The Deadly Winters
(3) ‘And so we must rest’ – Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat

And I drive by

This is a short film about Edzell Memorial Arch to the Earl and Countess of Dalhousie who died within 24 hours of each other leaving behind 5 orphaned sons:

And I drive by from omphalos

Raised by the people of Scotland

Crowd-funding is nothing new. The Martyrs’ monument was funded by public subscriptions to redress the events of 50 years previously when five Scots were transported for sedition. Their speaking up for the common people was judged by those in authority to be “wicked and felonious”.

The Foundation stone for the Martyrs’ Monument was laid on the 21st August 1844:

400 people attended the laying of the foundation stone. 183 years to the day later it happened to be five of us who gathered for a peaceful protest recognising the ongoing imbalance in power between those in high office and those in the general population.

Walter Humes, writing in Scottish Review, 21st September 2015:

President Obama put this in a slightly different way:

Our protest also happened to coincide with a solar eclipse. My particular experience with high office has related to my petition for a Sunshine Act for Scotland:

Surely one of the reasons that we commemorate the past is so that we can learn from it. The voices of the people really do matter.

The end of something

In this film I attempt to tell a bit of the story of the beginning of the end of Usan.

Behind the Keith Mausoleum on the rock of Skae I noticed a Celtic cross that commemorated a doctor: Dr W A Mackintosh who died in 1911 just before the war. I wondered who he was?

Back home I discovered that he was the last Laird of Usan and had died suddenly in his bath. This was the beginning of the end for the Fishertoon of Usan.

In this film I find a connection between an enamel bath (vessel) and the Trawlers (vessels) that did an end to the laird and hand-line fishing respectively. Usan then went into decline.

At the time of this Angus adventure I was reading Ernest Hemingway’s short stories “in our time”. They were written not long after WWI and reflect his terrible experiences. They are somewhat brutal.

The music in this film all comes from the BBC Proms: Scott Walker Revisited. I have been rather moved by this performance of words and music of yesteryear (words and music that were barely noticed for decades)

The end of something from omphalos.

Pitmiddle village

On Thursday 6th July 2017, on a wet summer morning, I set off to find the deserted village of Pitmiddle, in the Carse of Gowrie, Perthshire.

What follows is a storyboard of images and text. I have tried my best not to overwhelm with explanatory text and what I present, is by no means, “a history” It is the case that all histories have gaps in them and I would suggest that Pitmiddle is no exception.


All brief quotes (within images) come from the novel “All that man is” by David Szalay, which I have just finished reading.

By the time I reached Pitmiddle my map was soaked:

This is a map from the first part of the nineteenth century:

This is how Colin Gibson, in 1955 recorded his first visit to Pitmiddle:

This is Pitmiddle as depicted on the 1st Ordinance Survey map of c1860:

And this was how Pitmiddle was described by the surveyor of 1860:

Pitmiddle survived most of a millennium and was first recorded in1172:

This was how Pitmiddle looked at the century’s turn (early 1900s):

A sketch of one of Pitmiddle’s last occupied houses:

One villager, James Smith, who died in Pitmiddle in 1860 was involved in the Napoleonic wars and whose last vessel was the HMS Semiramis:

In July 1897 some of the Longforgan  congregation went on a picnic to Pitmiddle:

This is report from the Dundee Courier of 1896:

Generations of the Gillies family lived and worked Pitmiddle. Here is James Gillies, mason and his wife Margaret Gray pictured on their Golden Wedding in 1903:

There is a lovely account of this Golden Wedding Celebration that can be read here.

James Gillies, Mason died at Pitmiddle in October 1920, aged 87 years:

Unfortunately this report below, from 1891, was overly optimistic. As you can see from the death certificate above, Mary Ellen Clark, aged 45 years, died at Pitmiddle of tuberculosis.

I came across a number of Pitmiddle villagers who had died as a result of tuberculosis, such as Betty White who died aged 36 years of age in 1862.

It is true though that those who did not succumb to the mycoplasma bacterium often lived long lives at Pitmiddle.

This is the 1930 valuation Roll for Pitmiddle (click on image for closer view). Only two houses are occupied:

In 1917 the Inchmartine Estate, including Pitmiddle and its wood, were put up for sale:

This is how David R Perry finishes his account of Pitmiddle’s history:

I find myself wondering what happened to the grandson of James Gillies after he left Pitmiddle:

Pitmiddle is a special place. I am a late visitor. 

I want to thank all of the following and to acknowledge 
the sources of material that this post contains. 

If I have inadvertently omitted any out please let me know.

Bon Hambley who has set up a Pimiddle Facebook page 
and who has been nothing but helpful to me and 
permitted me to share the old images of Pitmiddle.

Pitmiddle Village - by David R Perry (published 1988 
by Perthshire Society for Natural Sciences)

Soldiering On - a wonderful account of the Gillies family

David Szalay - "All that is man is"

Scotlands People and Scotlands Places

All maps from the National Library of Scotland

British Newspaper Archive

This beautiful aerial film of Pitmiddle from November 2014