Gathering: A Place Aware Guide to the Cairngorms
‘Gathering’ is an innovative mapping of the Highland landscape in poems, essays, photographs, and maps, conceived by Scottish artist and poet Alec Finlay. The work guides the reader to modest and forgotten places in this complex region. ‘Gathering’ was created for The Fife Arms, located in Braemar within the heart of the Cairngorms, which will reopen in Winter 2018 after a complete restoration.
Finlay worked from Adam Watson’s published collection of names, one of the most signiﬁcant modern contributions to Scottish folk-culture consisting of over 7,000 local place-names, covering every ruined farm, shieling, hill, glen, spring, burn, and wood in the region. Over a period of years, Finlay expanded Watson’s catalog into a generous ‘ecopoetic’ and ‘place-aware’ account of the Cairngorms, accompanied by photographs showing the hills in all their seasonal variety. Essays guide the reader to names that reveal the haunts of wolves and wildcats, and cast a vivid impression of the great pinewoods that once grew there, and may again.
A multitude of perspectives – of the walker, hiker, climber, stalker, gun, forager, birdwatcher, and geologist – are gathered together, weaving varied perceptions of the landscape and revealing the ways in which these reﬂect human uses and human desires. By combining poetics, ecology, and folk-cartography, Finlay’s ‘place-aware’ philosophy offers readers and visitors alike a remarkable new insight into this evocative and vulnerable landscape.