This image is of the four “heel stones” of the old Paisley toll booth that was demolished in 1870 the toll booth which was by then leaning like the tower of Pisa was finally demolished. It was in this toll booth that the famous or infamous Paisley witches would have been held before trial and execution.
The larger stone coloured more reddish is “The Doo’s lan’ stane,” which translates as the Dovelands Stone. Doveland is an area of Paisley now called Callside. Large stones sat in many Scottish towns and probably date from early medieval times. They would be assemble places where declarations would be read or judgement be made. It was on this stone that the Paisley Martyrs declared the start of the short lived Weavers war, or the Radical insurrection of 1820 (Never let it be said that Scotland ever sat happy in the Union). Baird, Hardy and Wilson all stood on this stone and declared their commitment to “A free Scotland or a Desert.” Other Radicals followed such as the famous Willie Gallagher. I too stood on this stone, but never caused an insurrection…. yet!
It is a common phrase, “is stones could talk.” And certainly an interesting concept, but I wonder if the could talk if they would really be that interested in us and our doings after all they are millions of years old and we must seem very unimportant to them.
Still I have used this device in my work in progress and here is a extract for you to read. Let me know what you think in the comments and please leave a story or poem inspired by stones — talking or otherwise.
An Extract From LET SPIRIT FLY
I spent break walking alongside the wall of the school grounds. I would let my fingers brush against the stone. As I did it seemed as if memories ran from the stones up my fingertips. The stones told me all that they could remember. They told me about the time that Mark and Robert got into a fight. The time Anne fell and skint her knee. The stones told be about the magpies that walked along the top of the wall. They told me about the sound of children shouting and playing. They told me about the sparrow that nested where the cement had come away, and about the beetles that buried deep between the stones. They told me of snails climbing over them and of the blackbirds that plucked them and then smashed their shells against the copestones to expose the soft slimy flesh. They told me about pennies that had slipped from pockets and rolled into the weeds at the bottom of the wall. They told me about chalk marks written and then washed away by rain. Who loved who? The stones knew who loved who. Mark loved Laura. The stones told me. But who loves me? I asked them and the stones laughed but did not answer.