The Recovery of Sacred Sites in Scotland

The Recovery of Sacred Sites in Scotland: Iona – Harris – Govan

To consider a SNS only as a static entity is to fossilise it in matter and time. It is the dynamic movement of the Spirit that gives life and rekindles spiritual consciousness. When we enter into a dynamic relationship with SNSs we become more fully alive. We participate in the responsibility – the ability to respond – that can heal the world. SNSs matter to us today because what we once considered sacred has become desecrated. And if one questions what ‘sacredness’ is, it is where the nature of nature wild connects with our wild human and divine nature.

A sacred site may be one that has been recognised and protected, or one that is reactivated in cultural recognition, or even recreated in consciousness. Three Scottish case studies are been examined in this context.  The Isle of Iona, established since the 6th century as a monastic site by St Columba, is a ‘recognised’ and protected site and a place that has been described as ‘where the boundary between the spiritual and the material world is ‘‘tissue thin’’. Mt Roineabhal on the island of Harris has been ‘reactivated’ as sacred in the minds of people after it faced destruction by becoming a ‘superquarry’ and was saved after negotiations. And lastly, a recreation of sense of the broken industrial environment is being performed in the area of Govan, Glasgow, with high incidences of drug abuse and unemployment, starting in the 1930s and continuing today, reconnecting coastal communities by building traditional boats and sailing down the river.


Alastair McIntosh