Part 5 – The 12 Apostles

Standing stones 5 – The 12 Apostles


I travel south of Glasgow to the town of Dumfries. Before I go to visit the the standing stones near the village of Holywood I give three presentations in two libraries. The Ewart Library and the Georgetown Library. Here I talk to around 200 children about the stone circles in Scotland and how they can be a starting point for a story. The children formed their own creature and starting thinking about their own story.

We also talked about asthma. James, the boy-hero in my Peck Chronicles has the affliction. Yet he has amazing adventures despite this. Asthma can be controlled by using inhalers. Athletes like Paula Radcliff and football players like David Beckham had asthma yet still managed to reach the very top of their sports.

On my way home, I visit the final stone circle in my trip – The 12 apostles, as they are known, are just outside Dumfries and at 86 meters in diameter, they form the largest stone circle on the mainland of Scotland. To me they didn’t stand out as much as the other sites, or have that feel of somewhere mystical but when you look closer, there are some very interesting traces of our ancient ancestors. These are indentations known as cup marks. These were made by our ancestors anywhere between 3000 and 5000 years ago. People have tried to work out their meaning, suggesting that they may be some standard megalithic measurement, but no one really knows. What we do know is that these markings are found over a wide geographical area and that they are often accompanied by concentric rings. Here is a stone from Sardinia, an island off the coast of Italy.
On my way out of the field where the Apostles sit, I spy a stoat. Long and sleek-coated, it races over a stone dyke and disappears into a deep hole.

Features and Creatures

Today’s feature is Ewart Library.
Situated in Catherine Street in Dumfries, the Ewart Library is a two story sandstone building that was built in 1904. Commissioned by a very rich Scotsman called Carnegie, it was suggested that the library should be named after William Ewart. He was a parliamentarian from Dumfries who introduced the Free Libraries Act of Scotland in 1853. It’s thanks to Mr Ewart that our libraries are free to the public.

Today’s Creature is the Stoat.
The stoat is a member of the weasel family. It eats small mammals including rabbits and differs from the weasel itself by having a longer tail with a black tip. Some stoats can turn white in the winter. Their offspring are called kits and a fully grown stoat can live for as much as five years.
There is a silly saying that goes – ‘weasels are weaselly distinguished but stoats are stoatally different…’

Just a reminder that Strident Publishing will be sponsoring a children’s book pack which will be delivered to the school that produces the best story. The story must use a ring of stones as it’s starting point and be about a page long. Any school that has taken part in my trip or that has tuned into this video diary can take part. Good luck.

I will post some of the stories and poems produced by the children in this trip on www.paulmurdoch.co.uk

Here are today’s challenge questions

1 What can you use to control asthma?
2 How many stones form the the ancient ring near Dumfries?
3 Who was William Ewart?
4 Apart from a weasel and a stoat, name another member of the weasel family found in Scotland?

All answers to the challenge questions over the five video diaries will be posted on my website.

A huge thank you to GLOW, especially Jen McKay. To Keith Charters at Strident Publishing and to all the schools who took part and joined in on the fun.

Until our next big adventure – Bye for now.

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