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The Scottish Crannog Centre’s Samhain Connects our COVID Times to a Prehistoric Halloween Time Harvest

Image Courtesy of The Scottish Crannog Centre

Kenmore’s Scottish Crannog Centre dialled back to the past, embracing the Gaelic people of the past’s prehistoric tradition which celebrates the lives of the dead and the end of the harvest.

Samhain, pronounced Sow-ween, comes at the end of the harvest during a time for reflection, songs are sung, food for spirits are left on doorsteps and burdening memories are left in the ashes of bonfires.

Resident storyteller at the centre, Graham Liney, described the celebration by saying: “It would have been really important and it actually sort of works with what’s going on with the world right now, because what they would have had to have done by then is make sure that all of the crops were in.

“They would have to make sure they have their food ready for the rest of the Winter, they would have to make sure they have enough fuel, because basically at that time of year they were going to close their doors and only go out for essential purposes.

“So they basically went into their own form of lockdown.”

This primitive festival existed ‘mainly to celebrate the animals coming back from pasture’ says Mr Liney, he adds ‘it’s the end of Summer and it’s the getting ready of the dark seasons that would be coming up.’

The key theme behind Samhain is to honour the dead, learn from their memory and rejoice in their lives while reflecting on the impact they’ve made on your own.

There’s no better way to do that today than to host a real life Samhain in person on a Scottish Crannog dwelling.

‘And that is very much what we’re trying to do here’ says Mr Liney who connects the celebration held on Halloween back to the ancient ritual.

For him, it’s about bringing ‘the community around now and connect it with the community from then.’

The Crannog Centre’s celebration planned a Kelpie burning and Gaelic singing, which, in true Scottish fashion, had to be postponed.

The plan was to write messages which would be forgotten in the next year by burning them in the effigy made to resemble a Scottish Kelpie.

But Mr Linely says this will happen another day, when the weather becomes more suitable.

At the very least the ‘very windy’, ‘very wet’, weather and crashing waves against the Crannog made for a scene ‘that was all getting very atmospheric.’

Now the centre is looking to set up it’s next event now that they are running through the Winter months after missing so much of the Summer season.

Yule celebrates the Winter months and this task is being handed into the hands of the centres apprentices.

Mr Linely said: “They’ve actually been tasked with coming up with the concept, running it, coming up with all the ideas for it, in a way it will be their event.

“We’ll be there to help, but everything that happens will be based around their ideas and the things that they want to have happen.”

Thinking back to their contribution this year, Mr Linley added: “They played a big part in Samhain, they were all heavily involved, but they’re going to be even more involved in the Yule event.”

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