As I was opening a gate to get into a field where I’d seen some standing stones, these bright colours caught my eye. Someone had tied these threads onto the gatepost. I think it’s a “friendship bracelet” and I’ve really no idea why it ended up here instead of around somebody’s wrist. Maybe it fell off and another person found it in the road or the field and tied it here to make it more obvious to the owner should they return. But maybe the bracelet was tied there deliberately by the owner. I like to think the latter explanation is correct because when I saw it I immediately had the thought “friendship gate” which made the entrance to the field feel particularly welcoming. Strange, but that’s how it felt.
I got thinking about the tying of knots and how a knot can bind two objects (or two people!) together. I also got to thinking how tying this bracelet to this gate had acted like a multiplier, or magnifier, of an event. However, it came to be there, somebody, instead of just leaving it lying on the ground where it would soon be washed, or blown, away, had fixed it to that specific place. The event, the leaving of the bracelet in this particular place, was no longer over in a moment, or even in few hours, but now, the event stretched out in time, so many days after someone else could encounter it. It also magnified the event in terms of how many people it touched. I’ve been touched by it, even though I’ve no idea who made, or bought, or left the bracelet here. And now you have too, because I photographed it and wrote about it and you’ve come along and looked at the photo and read the words.
All because somebody tied a knot.
That got me thinking about other knots…..
This is a typical Celtic Cross. There are thousands and thousands like it in Scotland. I love the Celtic knots design. I love it because it has no clear beginning or end, it’s pleasingly balanced, yet totally fluid. It’s hard to actually look at a Celtic knot and keep your eyes still. You are somehow compelled to trace the path of one of the lines, often getting distracted where it crosses other lines and finding yourself following one of those instead, returning to your original line only at the next junction. I love the interconnectedness it so clearly illustrates, and I love the looseness of the knot as well. It’s more like a weaving than a knot somehow.
These stone knots last for centuries. We’ve usually no idea who actually carved them, but they left their marks, and they left them in ways which touch the lives of many, many others over countless years. These stone knots stretch time for me also. They connect me to the past, to roots, to ancestors, and in so doing, somehow, they make the lives of those ancient peoples feel closer.
I was born and raised in Stirling and one of the major landmarks in Stirling is a knot – the King’s Knot (although local people often refer to it as “the cup and saucer”). Here’s a view of it taken from the castle walls….
The King’s Knot is the remains of a garden. The garden now is earthworks and grass, but originally, back in the reign of James IV (the 1490s probably), it was laid out with flowers, herbs and bushes. For some strange reason, I’ve never wondered why it was called the “King’s Knot”. Well, of course, I knew it was a garden for the King, but why a “knot”? Then I got to thinking about knots today (who knows why?) and I decided to write a post about knots. Having decided to write about it, I had to go off googling and find out why on Earth it was called a “knot”. It took a bit of searching but eventually I discovered that these knots are a variety of labyrinth. They were often laid out with herbs, or with small box bushes and were formal gardens created to be enjoyed in a manner very similar to that of a labyrinth.
Have you got any favourite knots?
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