The Norsewoman's Day
We rise before dawn, my sisters and I, to light the fire and make ready for another day in this magical place.
It's winter now, and with little shelter from the sea, Caerlaverock can be unforgiving on a December morning. For warmth I pull on hose and braes just like my husband's clothes before I climb into my underdresses and hangeroc pinafore.
I fasten the hangeroc's looped straps over my shoulders with two little brooches from which hang the wee things I'll need throughout the day. I have a comb, a couple of small knives and some firestrikers hung beneath my brooches.
In this dark, oblong house of ours my family sleeps peacefully together in one room, yet I can already hear the animals in the byre at the other end of the house begin to wake.
There is a strong wind which may have disturbed the cattle, but our stone walls packed tight with earth and turf keep us safe and warm inside. With my children likely to sleep for another hour yet, I can take a moment to enjoy my favourite time of day.
Before daybreak early risers can experience the magnificent sight of thousands of geese, ducks and swans flying inland to feed. Like a sudden squawking cloud they rush overhead eager to set about their daily routine. I too must get on.
During the rest of the year there is ploughing, scything and harvesting to be done, but in the short days of winter we tend to the mending of tools, the repair of our homes and the making of our family's clothes.
I throw on my cloak and hood and after taking a moment to enjoy the splendour of the wildfowl in flight, I check on the animals, bringing them feed and water. As always my own little brood in the room next to the animals will be hungry when they wake.
I have bread to give them and oats for porridge, but I hope to have hare tonight if the boys have a successful hunt. We slaughtered a pig last week, but the meat must be made to last as we have few animals and little feed to give them.
Times are hard here in Scotland, but we have managed well to survive on these foreign shores. We are Norse folk by descent and still are ruled by the King of Norway, despite settling in the South-west of Scotland for generations now.
Our Norse culture, its myths and legends still live strong in each of our souls, however. In the long dark winter evenings, men, women and children sit together spinning wool and telling the tales of great battles, mysteries and romance that are the wonderful Norse sagas. As we sit making our traditional costumes together, I embroidering tiny triangles and crosses on to the cuffs and hems of our woollen clothes, my husband mixing plants for dying, we could be anywhere in Scandinavia.
But as I watch my sons and daughters playing chess with their little pieces of shell and I hear the wildfowl overhead making their evening return journey, I am happy here in Caerlaverock and content that we have settled here, not like the geese just for a season, but for life.