Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The power of place

Skulk turned right onto the Mile, up for a couple of hundred metres and then left, onto the George IV Bridge above the dark chasm of the Cowgate. At this time tomorrow it would be crowded, rain or no rain, but tonight it was almost empty, Thursday's revellers mostly behind the doors of the clubs. The machine stalked between the two big libraries to the top of Candlemaker Row, into the alley of Greyfriars and up and over the gate into Greyfriars Kirkyard. It paced past the church towards the Flodden Wall, and paused at the corner where the path turned towards the Covenanters' Prison.

Somewhere at the back of the roofless mausoleum of Thomas Potter (Nuper Mercator Edinburgis) a pebble shifted. A long shape lifted itself from the ground.
— from The Night Sessions, by Ken MacLeod.

This may not strike you as a particularly powerful passage, but it chilled me to the bone.

Not hours beforehand I'd walked the same route, stopped for some takeaway, then turned down Candlemaker Row to loop round to my hotel on Cowgate. I lay there in that chasm, recalling the stories our ghoulish tour guide told us of the ghosts in the graveyard.

I am grateful, too, for the history lesson, as Covenanters are deeply relevant to MacLeod's novel.

This turned out to be a most fortuitous choice of reading material while visiting Edinburgh.

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