It is most unlikely that you will have come across ‘Watchman’: yet he has been around since 1714.
Watchman was erected over a newly found spring by Archibald Campbell of Barbreck. Since then he has gone on his travels in Argyll, and maybe even to further afield to England, before being returned in 1910 to the spring of his youth.
With my friend Ian, I visited Watchman last week. He was hard to find despite being just yards away from the A816 between Oban and Lochgilphead. Watchman, back in his original landscape, now finds it most neglected. He is hidden behind a steel crash barrier and at the foot of an artificial embankment strewn with litter thrown from passing vehicles. There is no path to Watchman and fallen trees and thickets of brambles block the way. Watchman sits on an ugly concrete base as incongruous as the steel supports on either side of it.
This now sorrowful scene was visited in 1984 by Debbie Saward who began: “it’s very hard to communicate what we felt, but hopefully this gives you some idea”:
The best account of ‘Watchman’ can be found in The Kist by Dr F. S. Mackenna:
My visit to W A T C H M A N, twenty-five years after Debbie Saward, aroused similar feelings to those that she beautifully put into words after her first visit. I feel a need to write a poem. I also plan to return to W A T C H M A N with secateurs and perhaps some willing folk (‘all welcome persons’) to help me clear a path. We shall take with us a drinking cup.