Roman Stone

Wanting to source an old OS map, and also find out any historic information about the site around the River Ruchil in Comrie, I visited the library in Perth and went to the reference and archives department.  I was directed to a very helpful lady who showed me some maps and photocopied a couple which were of interest to me. I was then advised to look at few websites, such as EDINA: Statistical Accounts of Scotland and Scotland’s Places (which has many OS maps in its digital archive). When I arrived home, I went straight to these websites, and found some fascinating info about the area around the Ruchil, as well as other interesting facts about the village of Comrie, where I lived since the age of three until I was in my mid-twenties. I found that a Roman General named Agricola had built a fort and a “Marching Camp” at Comrie, near the Ruchil, where he clashed with the army of the Caledonians, headed by Galgacus, in 79AD. Looking at the OS map, I found some areas marked where the Roman camp and Roman Fort had existed. There was also a standing stone adjacent to the camp, which was called the Roman Stone. As the area of the camp was quite a stretch, and the coordinates would have varied considerably between different areas, I decided to use the coordinates (WGS84) of the Roman Stone to make a piece of work. I had been thinking about making a piece which consisted solely of coordinates, and had toyed with perhaps using plants or other natural materials to make them. The fact that I was mapping a Roman Stone, gave me the idea of making a mosaic (in keeping with Roman tradition), using stone which I found nearby at the Ruchil. I also thought it would be more interesting to write the coordinates in Roman numerals so:

56 21′:65.46″N    3 59′: 06.17 W translated as:  LVI XXI LXV. XLVI N  III LIX  OVI. XVII  W

IMG_3700I collected some small peebles from the river’s edge in a bucket, and took them home to clean them. PREPARINGSTONES2Once washed, I used the barbecue and an old set of bellows to speed up the drying process.makingmosaic6I projected and traced the numerals onto a small canvas. Rather than using the the stones to fill the numerals, I decide to work into the negative space as this gives the numerals a recessed appearance as if they were carved or set into stone. It also leaves the numerals as empty space, signifying that the Romans are no longer there, just ghosts within the landscape.makingmosaic5A few hours later the mosaic was beginning to take shape. I stuck the stones down using PVA glue.makingmosaic2makingmosaic4

 makingmosaic3From this angle, the piece itself looks not unlike a road or track

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 The finished stonework…I preferred to spray the piece with a very thin coat of white to make it slightly more subtle and ghostlike.

whitemosaicdetail whitemosaicThe finished piece… I’m quite happy with the result, and I think conceptually it works as a site inspired piece, with the use of the Roman Numerals, and the mosaic technique using stone found near the site. Also the WGS84 coordinates tie in with the walking theme, as does the fact that there was a “marching” camp nearby.

Water of Ruchil

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                                Solitary stravaiger

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Stepping back in time

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Helpless and uprooted

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Thirstily searching for Life

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Charred discarded memories

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Hide in empty vessels

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Bottled up Emotions

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Weeping with nostalgia

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Open eyes observing

IMG_1751Mossy melancholy

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Dark decaying circles

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Rings of life, and death

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Bearded branches bearing

islands

Overhanging islands

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Wizened witches fingers

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Slowly shedding skin

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The ancient paths where legions trod

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Adorned with hostile emblems

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Non-native invaders thriving

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Surviving futile floods

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Dryadic burrs lie twisted

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By shallow shifting sands

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Relics of rotten remains

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Receive a new awakening

gushing

Gushing rapids foaming

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to the Wild Boar’s Pool

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Constant flowing waters

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Reflecting on times past

IMG_3166Sunbeams over Nemeton

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Pierce the Veil of Sleep

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Sinister skeletal symbols

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Monuments to life

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Warped wefts of wisdom

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Frame palimpsestic paths

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Sacred standing stones

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Cover ritualistic remains

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Barbaric battlefields beckon

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Shackled and forbidden

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For those who draw the short straw

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Mortality confirmed