Personal identity and the landscape

In August 2017 I walked along a path with friends to Balloch Castle, next to Loch Lomond in The Trossachs National Park,  Scotland. There were a series of benches placed for people to rest.  Each of these gives a strategic views across the Loch.  Each of the benches had a plaque commemorating people who had passed away but had some connection with the location next to the Loch.


This simple set memorials contains within it a wide spectrum of humans relationship to the landscape.

Each of the plaques were heart felt dedications, some very recent, to the essence of what drew the people who had died to this particular part of Loch Lomond.

Some sought to memorialise the person’s life achievements by linking them, as a reminder, to be noted while viewing the landscape. Others reflected on how the person they had been enlarged by taking time to be still in that location, while others had more of a homely remembrance of connection across ties of family and friendship.

And I was challenged by the question – “was any one of the dedications more honourable than the other?”.  Was the observation that people had been spiritually(?) enriched a more honourable relationship to the landscape than the dedication that sought to use that particular location to embed a reminder of personal achievement into the viewer’s mind.

To my mind, recognising that the landscape has a soulful and enriching character that settles us back into our context, gives us rest and a sense of perspective about life is the more preferable option.  And we also have to recognise that each of these dedications were done out of a fond, and possibly even grief driven, desire to remember someone.


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