The Scapa Flow Landscape Partnership Scheme

Building the Croft House, a poem by George Mackay Brown

We took the first basket
Near the Old Man,
We climbed, loaded. We crossed Moorfea.
We set down the stones.

This we did, we two
A hundred days
Between boat launch and butter making.

Peat-cutting, stone-getting, stone-dressing, stone-setting.
That summer
A dream of stone, fish, corn.

We carried up stones
In June, when the grass was tall and bee-thronged.
A gable looked out over the bay.

Flashing scythes, falling corn.
The doorstep set.
We drank ale from a stone jar.

Hearth-stone, water niche, lintel.
Small stones sand from the chiselled querns.
I can’t work wood.
I had to give silver for roof-beams, door, table.

We carried the last load
Two days before the wedding.

The day after the first snow
Sam the ox stood in the byre. He chewed. He wondered.

George Mackay Brown: The Wreck of the Archangel