February 2013, Isle of Skye, Uamh an t-sìol/Uamh an t-sìtheanach, The Cave of the Seed/Cave of the Fairy

Precious time filming, talking and thinking about our work in relation to specific sites. In exploring the cave sites we are exploring the constructs of the Gaelic otherworld and how this was used to give meaning to everyday life. We spent most of our time at another cave site, the name of which is still undecided, but is known as either Uamh an t-sìol, Cave of the Seed or Uamh an t-sìtheanach, Cave of the Fairy. Not much is known about this cave. In 1984, a skull was found in a deep recess inside the cave and this has been dated to the late Medieval. Part of the cave interior was later excavated and a hearth and associated pebble tools were found which have yet to be dated. The cave lies quite high up a hillside in the Strath and once you scramble down into it, it is deep enough to stand upright with beautiful views upwards through an overarching tree to the sky.

Looking Up

The cave and others like it are a remnant of belief, when religion was practised out of doors. Caves may have been used as a place of sanctuary by some of the population to practice sacred mysteries. The use of caves continues into the Christian period with many named after saints, for example St. Martin’s Cave on Iona named for the hermetic monk, Martin of Tours.

Stories of otherworld journeys from early Irish poetry frequently feature caves. Caves, trees and wells were regarded as an entrance to the Otherworld, places of both death and healing echoing the cycle of nature through winter into spring.

005 cave of the skull still 0013

Working in the studio later we played with the footage screening it over the drawing and sculpture installation on the studio wall.

studio

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