Living Stones

The "rosette stone" at the foot of Ben Lawers on a cold October dawn. The carving incorporates sun and moon symbols, and may be designed to balance and harmonize male and female energies. It is the size of an outspread human hand. Lindsey Campbell

Those of you who know Loch Tayside, in Highland Perthshire, deep in the secret heart of Scotland, know that it is a world apart. It has no wish to associate itself with the squalid waste of days and resources that we consider normal life. It is a rocky place, where the bones of Mother Earth show everywhere through her skin. Trees and a profusion of rare wild flowers grow from the sweet soil and even from the stone itself. A rock, it seems, is far more than just something placed there by malign fate to break your ploughshare or your back axle. Christ said if we took no notice of him, the very stones would speak. I believe it. Round here they speak so loudly they give us headaches.

Some of us try to live our ordinary lives in this extraordinary place, buying and selling and filling in forms like the rest of you. But even the most mundane affairs can play tricks on us.

I was walking up to the farm road-end one Thursday morning to see my seven-year-old son to the school bus, a white Sherpa minibus. We were a bit late, and still perhaps a hundred metres from the road end when we saw a white vehicle coming along the main road.

"There's the school bus" we both said, then a moment later chorused "Oh no it isn't!"

What we could see now was not a minibus with windows in the sides but a delivery van with fancy lettering in fact, the fish van which came every Thursday morning, usually at an earlier time. Nothing surprising so far, until the vehicle, which had been in plain view the whole time on an otherwise empty road, turned in at the road-end and proved to be the school bus after all.

Sean and I looked at each other in bewilderment. He is a bright, observant and hard-headed child. He would never have been found dead believing in Santa Claus, for instance. But we both agreed we had clearly seen the minibus be the fish van and then become the minibus again.

We shrugged our shoulders, and Shaun dutifully climbed aboard the bus. As it drove away, the fish van sailed by. It must have been a mile or more away at the time we "saw" it.


On another occasion, my landlord, farmer Drew Brown, was returning with his tractor and trailer from feeding the sheep on the hill. I was opening a field gate for him further along the road. He seemed to be waiting a very long time to drive across the road, considering there was no traffic. When he eventually joined me, he was white and shaken.

"Did a car pass? I saw one coming towards me and waited and it never came. There's no sign of it now and there's nowhere it could have gone. It looked like the green one of Alec's (the next door neighbour)."

He had "seen" the car on the same section of road that we had "seen" the school bus be the fish van.

A few months later, Drew was working in the field beside the road. Three times in the course of the afternoon he saw cars slam on their brakes and stop as they approached this same place, then drive away very cautiously. There were no stray sheep or anything else that Drew could see to account for their behaviour.

Phantom Headlights

I wrote to the local paper describing these incidents and asking if anyone else had had similar experiences, particularly in this neighbourhood. I had a number of interesting replies, including various reports of "phantom headlights" seen in the area. I learned that phantom vehicles were almost a commonplace phenomenon. There is a lonely single-track road on the Isle of Skye that has been so beset with them for the last fifty years that even the police now warn visitors not to be alarmed by them.

When I sat my Gaelic exam, after looking into this, I was just a little startled by the passage for unseen translation–it was a story about phantom headlights.


Recently, we have had a new manifestation. Drew's mother, who is a remarkable old Highland lady, Gaelic speaking and complete with the Second Sight, walked up to the road-end at midnight to look for the terrier, who had gone AWOL.When she looked along the road she saw that a section of the wire fence perhaps a metre or so long was brightly lit right from the ground up. The odd thing, she said, was that although it was quite bright, it cast neither light nor shadow around it. There was no traffic on the road, no house nearby, no possible light source to account for what she saw. She started to walk towards it a couple of times, but not unnaturally lost her nerve and decided to go home. On the way, she found herself completely disorientated for a moment, within metres of her own house where she has lived for forty years.

We called in a very remarkable friend of ours, David Cowan of Crieff.

In the last few years, David has walked thousands of of miles over Scotland's hills with his dowsing rods, mapping and studying those lines of geomagnetic force known as ley-lines. Computer-trained, he has approached the subject with a wide-open mind, but in a thoroughly scientific manner. Some of his discoveries are quite staggering.

He soon found the cause of our phantoms. An unusual pattern of ley-lines had been deflected by the road at this point. These conditions can trigger a kind of "natural hologram" which seems to account for many sightings of ghosts and apparitions.

David traced this particular pattern to a rock further up the hill, which had been carved with an unusual rosette design. David said it had been done specifically to set up this particular energy pattern which seemed beneficial.

You may not believe in ley-lines, or in dowsing. Nor did a neighbouring farmer, who was watching these investigations with some amusement, until he was handed the dowsing rods and they swung around in his hands at the same spot as they had done for David.

Recently, I organized a retreat on a nearby farm for a number of Mensans. They were all strangers to the Highlands, to each other, and to me, and came expecting nothing but a cheap holiday in intelligent company. I invited David to give us a talk and demonstration. Soon he had nearly every one of us dowsing. It was not "all in the mind" and it was not spooky; it was simply as if the rods were responding to a magnet.

David told us about his newest work of diagnosing and adjusting houses containing negative spirals, which can cause the occupants to suffer headaches and depressions and even major illnesses such as cancer, arthritis, multiple sclerosis and m.e. He has made the remarkable discovery that the prehistoric cup-marked stones, which have baffled scientists for so long, were often placed to throw protective bands of energy around stone buildings. He has learned how to do this himself, and gave us a demonstration, throwing a snug cordon of good energy around the farm buildings where we were staying.

The barn that we used as as meeting hall had always had a gloomy, sinister feeling at one end, and people quite unconsciously avoided this area. Now our rods were picking up a negative line heading straight across the yard towards that part of the building— and being turned back on itself by the new band of protection. And the atmosphere inside the barn is now uniformly cheerful.

David told us many strange stories. One day he was adjusting a ley-line which seemed to be causing some trouble. A couple of days later he read in a local paper that some people in the neighbourhood had been accosted by a "green witch"who jumped out from behind a rock said "Tee hee, tee hee!" and vanished. This had happened at the same time David was working on the nearby ley-line. The description of the "green witch" tallied exactly with that of fairy hags of the Highland legends and "tee hee" is a fair phonetic rendering of the Gaelic taigh shidhea fairy house. How little we know of the world we live in and how little we know what we are doing when we interfere with it! David also told us that some people, possibly Druids, chose to be buried under standing stones so that their consciousness could live on in the area, acting as guardians. It may seem an odd thing to want to do, but we Celts do have a strange tendency to fall desperately and permanently in love with sea-battered rocks and wind-whipped bog at least, it would be quite agreeable to spend a few hundred years just watching the landscape around Loch Tay.

Behind the Primary School in Killin at the head of the loch stands a small, quite insignificant looking stone reputed to mark the grave of the great hero of Scottish and Irish legend, Finn McCumhal. In the next installment, perhaps I shall tell you of our adventures with Finn and his warriors of the Fianna!

Lindsey Campbell © 1989


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