A Scottish Storyteller

My Life In The Iron Age and some Upcoming Events!

Well - spring is coming and that means that for me, so does the storytelling season!

I was shocked to calculate that I have now been volunteering at Archaolink Prehistory Park for 8 years now! This will be my 9th season at the park.

I've always had a keen interest in prehistory and archaeology, so when Archaeolink opened in 1998 and a workmate brought me along one weekend in 1999 to help with the preparation of thatching the round house, I knew then I wanted to spend more time doing this sort of thing. This was followed up by a couple of weekends at the dig on the top of Berryhill in 2000 where I was encouraged for the first time to explain to the visitors what was going on - back then I wouldn't have dreamed that some day I would have the confidence to stand up in front of over 200 people and tell a story or sing a song! (Incidentally, they discovered I was really good at turfing, so I never got to get in about with a trowel and paintbrush. Damn.)

The Iron Age Roundhouse with Wickerman in the background.

I got my first car that year and at the start of the 2001 season, Baldrick (my rusty old E-Reg Golf) and I made our way out to Oyne. For the first couple of years I spent my time in the iron age round house or in other parts of the site (such as the mesolithic early stone age and bronze age) doing living history, talking to visitors and tourists about prehistoric life in Scotland and learning crafts such as dying, weaving and cooking.

Then in 2003 it was decided that for Wickerman (Archaeolink's yearly Samhain festival - Hallowe'en to anyone else!), storytellers would be needed to tell creepy iron age tales in the round house. Well, three of us volunteered. With no previous experience and no stories, we had to make up our own using our knowledge of ancient Celtic beliefs and superstitions and then practice, practice, practice!

The night before the big event I had been to see Sheena Blackhall telling stories at Fraser Castle and to say I was inspired was an understatement! People started arriving 10 minutes early for the storytelling and looked at us expectantly. We couldn't start our 3 painfully-practiced stories before the time was due - so I leapt up and told one of the stories Sheena had told the night before (which I now know to be one of Stanley Robertston's) - I'm very pleased to say that all our stories went down very well that afternoon and that I haven't looked back since!

Two ex Time Travel Guides (for that is their job title!) Camilla as Silly Billy and Jodie as the Roman Tax Collector Adrianus Minimus

At this point I'll mention that that first story I ever told has now become an Archaeolink Classic - Silly Billy is now the story of a boy from the Taexali tribe who disposes of a Roman tax collector in a rather accidental but amusing way. It's the first story I tell every year and will soon be part of a computer-based storytelling application at Archaeolink as the result of an RGU student's Honour's project. (Who's permission I will get first before mentioning his name here! :)

The park opens next weekend and will, on the 29th March be FREE! They've got Medieval Realm (of whom GAS Storyteller Sean Gordon is a member), The 9th Legion Roman Reenactors as well as the Bennachie Rangers, Bushcraft and heaps more.

And then on Sunday 5th April between 1 and 4pm , Anna Fancett and myself will be leading a Family Storytelling Workshop. Based on an environmental theme, the workshop will be targeted at children between primaries 4 and 7 but everyone will be made welcome! Featuring a trip up Berry Hill followed by the workshop in the main building, this will be a fun way to tell stories about the environment in which we live. Children should bring an adult with them and you can book in advance by contacting Archaeolink on 01464 851500. Entry fees apply.

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