Friday, 17 June 2011

The Great Unknown

Moffat Book Events started in October 2010 as a community group with a constitution, and is now in the process of becoming a Scottish Charitable Organisation 'to promote the advancement of the Arts,Heritage, Culture and Science of Moffat and District'. A theme of our forthcoming October 15/16 event is the nature of identity, from a personal physical point of view (our DNA) and psychologically (in October: the significance of Merlin, the wizard/shaman figure in the Arthurian cycle). As Alistair Moffat discovers in his A Genetic Journey , all that an analysis of our DNA proves is that 'we are all immigrants'. Notoriously, while Scotland's politicians campaigned for 'independence' in recent years, a group of Scotsmen was running Britain from Westminster. Even now, our UK Prime Minister is a Cameron. So what, in 2011, does 'nationality' mean? According to an item in yesterday's (Thursday June 16) Moffat News , 'The Great Unknown' - theme of a monumental artwork to mark the west coast boundary between England and Scotland at Gretna. This £2m enigma is conceived as a counterpart to 'Northumbriana' - Charles Jencks's massive recumbent green goddess - and Antony Caro's rusty metal 'Angel of the North' to the east. In addition, land artist Andy Goldsworthy will be making a 12-mile long trail across the Debatable Lands, scene of 300 years of lawlessness, raid and counter-raid by border families who acknowledged no authority but the sword.


  1. 'National Identity' has been a topic of a number of debates I've had recently. A topic I fear that will alway prove to be a tad contentious. Perhaps it is time to define our identity by means other than a land border?

  2. I agree! Perhaps for historical perspective, the border installation should show how various groups over the centuries have claimed the land - from the British Kingdom of Strathclyde to the Angles Normans, and the Reivers ?