At the bottom end of Glencoe, a car journey down which in any weather partakes of both the sublime and the terrible, is an underdeveloped and underwhelming tourist attraction which goes by the name of Signal Rock. You reach it by a cleared pathway down and into the Forestry Commission planted woods a mile or so from the Tourist Information Centre.
It is only by a wee, white pointy sign that it is singled out for your attention at all.
An explanatory notice tells you that the rock derives its current name from a legend, undoubtedly untrue, that it was from here that the signal was given to begin the massacre of the MacDonalds in the nearby village in 1692…the name probably came about in the 19th century, when, along with the rest of Scottish history, the Jacobite resistance to the Hanoverian Succession had been safely relegated beyond dangerous memory into picturesque and sentimental myth.
The Gaelic name of the stone, by contrast, Tom a’ Ghrianain, or Hill of the Sun, suggests ancient sun worship…which, given that the trees weren’t there back then and the Glen faces East to the rising sun as well as West to the sea from which the Gaels arrived on this island, certainly seems more plausible ...if a wee bit of a scandal to my Presbyterian sensibilities.The different names and significances that history, including its most recent and ecologically sacramental version, has given to this hopefully “one day to be fully appreciated as really quite interesting” chunk of Highland Landscape can stand, I think, for the incoherences and half -truths of the recent conduct of the Rising of 2014.
Anyway, I fancy a geological metaphor this morning. ie That there are sedimentary layers of mutual incomprehension, miscalling, misspeaking and mishearing going on in this campaign -despite Janet Street Porter trying to be reasonable last night- that reveal the "built in and soon to be noticed" EVEN IN LONDON dysfunction in the political geology of Ukania.
The tectonic plates are only moving one way. But is geology moving fast enough for Sept 18th? Can we see past the trees and wave from the top of Signal Rock?