The story continues with a semi-fictional look at Glasgow’s arcane history as old man Mackail explains the history of the Sighthill Stone Circle, and starts to reveal its hidden secret to a confused narrator.
The stone circle is semi-hidden amongst the overgrowth at the highest point of Sighthill Park in north Glasgow, an inner city modern link to an ancient rural tradition. Passers-by might never know the stones were there or understand how their sacred nature radiates protection over the city.
David Mackail’s agitated manner slowly calmed as he talked about the circle, as if his precise words soothed him, yet his eyes revealed a terrible haunting.
The circle was built in 1979 as part of a job creation scheme. The stones were carefully chosen from local quarries and ferried in by Sea King helicopters to the delight of local school children given the day-off school to mark their arrival. Mackail explained how the stones were uniquely aligned to date, latitude and skyline, that they were a tribute to Glaswegian astronomical researchers and that the design of the Glasgow megalith was influenced by Le Grand Menhir Brisé in Brittany.
I must admit that I did not grasp the finer details of the astronomical relationship between the stones and the stars but I was impressed by Mackail’s serious and polite manner, especially when he began to reveal the compromised nature of the stone.
Listing and compromised the circle channels and suppurates psychic energy through wounds caused by malevolent forces from the south, mistakes and misalignment. It started with the election of Thatcher. Flushed with the victory she surveyed her conquered dominion and disliked many things. There was so much to be done but first “there will be no more nonsense like the Glasgow Parks Astronomy Project”. It was enough. The flunkeys jumped in fear and the project was halted. On one level the stone circle represented a serious affront: an example of socialist art projects squandering public funds and offending decent British common sense. But it went deeper. This was a modern channeling of ancient paganism and Druid rites, the old ways to be destroyed by the new forces in the land. Maggie was to wage more famous and more violent wars on the old ways, and Stonehenge was to suffer police brutality in its name at the Battle of the Beanfield, but Sighthill copped the early chilling salvos.
It left a gaping problem. The circle had not yet been completed.
The stones to mark the sunrise and sunset equinoxes were not there. Furthermore the plans were misread and the stones were dug in lower than originally intended while the calculations, forced to be based on complicated theory rather than observation, are narrowly out for the descending midwinter sun and midsummer sunset.
But all this was manageable. Every solstice the Druids tended to the stones and repaired the psychic damage as much as possible with blessings and offerings from whiskey to cake.
Druids in North Glasgow
“Wait a minute. Druids. Here! In north Glasgow?”
Mackail ignored my interruption.
“What’s worse is that Glasgow Council is looking to re-develop the park and re-locate the stones. Yes – you are right to look astonished. Surely not even the most coked-up, corrupt councilor would be arrogant enough to dig-up a scared stone circle?”
“I was thinking that re-creating it somewhere else could be good surely? They could correct the mistakes. It would a rebirth. A new spiritual reawakening for the city. And I think the coke in the chambers scandal is a bit exaggerated. They’re not all at it.”
“You’re an ignorant fool just like them. Do you realise what forces will be unleashed if they move the stones? The circle, flawed as it is, just about manages to keep things right with help from the Druids. It is the anchor preventing disaster.”
“To what” I asked, feeling increasingly confused.
“Follow the lines. That stone is aligned to the sunset of the summer solstice. Now turn and continue the line on. It’s Glasgow’s sacred geometry and a clue to what is really going on.”
“The necropolis. Of course!. Sorry – for a moment I was distracted by a vision of our councillors respectfully racking up lines carefully aligned to the sacred geometry.”
I laughed but Mackail was not amused.
“You don’t understand. I invite you to walk away with your mockery or follow me if you really want to know what is going on?”
He walked away a little, stopped and cast his gaze over the city centre in oblivious repose under the grey clouds. It was only looking back at this encounter, half-deranged and feeling my old self slip away, that I realised he was giving me a chance to back-out. But I was hooked by this odd man, his peculiar story and the mystery of his fear.
“Look I’m sorry.”
“Paradise and Sighthill are the anchors tying down the quarter of torment.”
I was back to fascinated bewilderment.
“Paradise…Celtic?” I spluttered. “What..?”
Glasgow’s quarter of torment
“I am the last custodian of a terrible secret, a horrific medical curse on this city that sees the resurgence of Dr Lister and the return of Dr Octagon. I have allowed myself to be distracted by follies and unimportant matters. I thought the stones were always going to be safe. Complacency is the governing force in this city and I am ashamed that I too have fallen prey.”
Suddenly he looked almost cheerful.
“Do you know I feel much better talking to you.” He fished into his bag. “Can I interest you in a conspiracy that examines the bankruptcy of Burns publishers?”
“Pity. Have you ever wondered why a hospital, a necropolis, a doss-house and an abattoir follow the exact line of the summer solstice? This is Glasgow’s quarter of torment. If you come with me I will show you.”
Glasgow’s Quarter of Torment: The Sacred Line
Part 3 sees strange things start to happen around Glasgow as Mackail exposes a sinister side and things take a turn for the worse for the narrator. Read part 3 The Stones and the Torment
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