Tuesday, August 08, 2006


(N.B. it has been pointed out that some people I actually know read this blog. It came as much of a surprise to me... It is my duty - therefore - to point out to those people who know what a "Crann Tara" is, that the one I constructed only bears a passing resemblance to a real one. I am, after all, better with cameras that I am with hammers and saws.) KS

For a while I've had an idea for a photo in my head, one that required a bit of work beforehand. This, I realised. Somehow... I never actually bothered with all that preparation business... Until today.

The photo I had was of Crann Tara (in focus and in black and white) with some kind of representation of old Scotland behind it (slightly out of focus) - preferrably from the period a Crann Tara is from. I didn't fancy a monument, I want something "real" something completely unposed.

My first attempt to make one involved taking my camera to a brackeny area of kilsyth, finding some grass and some sticks and attempting to light them with some lighter fluid. You can guess the sheer scale of disaster that my mini-inferno caused.

Don't take my prediliction for fire-raising as being anything other than a symbolic realisation of an inherent Scottish primal spirit. It's a manifestation of the sun and the earth. I'm sure the poor farmer in Kilsyth saw it that way. Still, it's not like he was using the land anyway...

So, cut to Crann Tara version two. Cue Mr. Kenny outside his local B & Q with some rope (for another project) and a three meter wooden thingy out of which I would contruct at the very least a couple of Crann Tara.

"Kenny," quoth one of my acquaintences as she noticed me outside the Cumbernauld B&Q "are you planning on building a gallows with that?"

"Nah," I laughed "The ropes for... stuff and the Wood is for a Crann Tara."

This is when it struck me that normal people won't entirely get the whole "Crann Tara" concept, or my photographic ambitions for this piece of Scottishrana.

"What's a Crann Tara?"

"It's like a torch?"

"Is that just a Gaelic word for torch then?"

"Not quite."

"So what is it?"

My apologies, this is when I realised that telling the delectable passer by that I was, in fact, intending to build a wooden replica of a Scottish Fiery Cross and burn it somewhere symbolic. All in the name of photography.

I therefore explained this to her as eloquently as I could bring myself to do so. Unfortunely this was on a Saturday when I was still slightly hungover. Her reply was:

"You mean like KKK?"

"I'm not a Nazi."

"I just figured you'd gone past the left wing and straight on right round..."

"It's not a bad thing."


"No... no... really. It's a burning emblem Scottish clansmen used to take from village to village to stir the clans. It's a tradition. I thought it would make a good photo. They've done in uprisings."

"Are you planning an uprising... Again?"

"It's purely photographical."


Well, really... barbarians. Anyway, I continued home, did some stuff any between then and now and it's basically made. Just have to find a location. It looks... kind of like a cross. I did use nails, cos frankly I couldn't work out how you did one of those slot things. I'm pretty sure I've used the wrong type of wood and my accelerent is going to be some rags and some lighter fluid.

This... therefore... may well be my last post without all my skin burnt to a crisp, but I'm damn sure I'm getting a photo.

(this is why I avoid barbeques).

Anyway, for history and junk to read up, go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiery_cross