Sometimes as I drive around the area near to where we live, I drive under the shadow of an ancient grave. On the summit of a dominant hill is the faded outline of a burial mound. Unexcavated and uninspected, it exists only as a mound with a collapsed centre, hinting at a folded in chamber from long ago.
I wonder who, or what, was placed in this place. Bones? Ashes? It is thought that these places were used for special burials of people of social standing. The mound on this hill is big enough to require a lot of work to build. Maybe dedicated workers, or a clan for their leader, or slaves.
Every time I look at this particular mound looming large on the skyline, I can’t help but think of an old story I once read. It was set in the strange world of Iceland and involved a horrific witch. A witch that plagued the villagers so much that when she eventually gave up her body the locals took precautions. They placed her corpse under a cairn on the highest mountain. They put her there, not to be close to the heavens, but to be as far away from the people as was possible, fearing that some dreadful part of her wicked spirit might not have fully left her body. And if any wayward traveller found themselves walking over this high point, they had to carry out a task. It became a tradition to place an extra rock on the cairn, a little extra weight to help hold down the witch.
Whatever is resting up there on the hill it has changed in the last few weeks. I don’t know the exact moment it happened, but it was a shock when I noticed it. The silhouette that I was used to had changed. For the last few thousand years it has slowly been worn around the edges, yet still maintained it’s profile. Now it has a small transmitter tower stabbed into its summit. It is an ugliness that no longer draws my eye to it, no longer stirs my imagination. It looks like it is a cluster of microwave transceivers, the sentinel for our mobile phones. So what is it? Is it a highly regarded chief watching over us? Is it our master, and we the poor slaves? Or is it evil like the witch? Are we brave enough to all add a small rock to it and all work together to bury it?