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Tributes to the landscape

The words of a 14-year-old boy from Aberdeen and a 15-year-old girl from the Isle of Barra have been immortalised in stone outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.

The poems of Robert Adam and Mairead MacNeil, unveiled last week, were the winning entries to a school-based poetry competition organised last year by Scottish Natural Heritage and the Rock On organising partnership to celebrate Scotland's geographical richness. The country, once dominated by volcanoes and submerged by tropical seas, became a centre for studying geology from the 18th century due to its range of rocks, fossils and landforms.

Robert, of Robert Gordon's College, was the overall winner, while Mairead, of Castlebay Community School, whose first language is Gaelic, won the Gaelic language category, beating more than 1,000 entries from across Scotland.

Their poems have now been carved into Caithness flagstone, which, with Kemnay granite, was used to construct the parliament building. Visitors will read them while standing in the shadow of one of Scotland's most memorable landmarks, Arthur's Seat.

"The poems reflect the importance of geology in the landscape and the beauty of Scotland's scenery, and it is very fitting that the winning entries should be engraved into stone used in the building of the new parliament," says Colin MacFadyen, a Scottish Natural Heritage geologist.

In Castlebay, the school plans to celebrate its poet by displaying its own carving of Mairead's entry, says her headteacher, David Bowman. Robert Gordon's College plans to do something similar with Robert's poem.

Look. What can you see?

I see beauty in the lochs.

I see majesty in the mountains.

I see legends in rocks.

And it is ours.

Robert Adam

Beanntan ...rda

Fo che

Mar chaistealan glasa

A' fledradh sa mhuir

(Towering mountains

Shrouded in mist

7Like grey castles

floating in the sea)

Mairead MacNeil

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