The other day somebody pointed out a photograph of an inukshuk on our calendar. Since he works in the North West Territories, and many of his colleagues are Inuit, he’s knowledgeable about these native people and there culture. He said these way-markers basically mean, “We were here”. He was clear that it was in the past tense. Here’s an Inukshuk on the 2010 Winter Olympics logo.
“Inukshuk (ee-nook-shook or ee-nook-sook) is an Inuktitut word that means to look like a person (an Inuk). It is a stone cairn which has been used by the Inuit people to mark high points of land, good hunting and fishing spots or the way home. Inuit have been building Inuksuit (ee-nook-soo-eet / plural) for thousands of years. It is a symbol of trust and reassurance for those who travel across the vastness of the Arctic.” You can build your own virtual inukshuk…
‘A symbol of trust and reassurance for travelers’. Those who have walked the hills know about Britain’s way markers, the cairn. And closer to home there is the Buddhist stupa. Somewhere (and I wish I had a better memory for this kind of thing) it is said that to build a bridge or a stupa is an act of charity.
3 thoughts on “We Were Here”
Way back in November a cairn building program in Cyprus crossed not a few cultures. On Halton Lea Fell in Northumberland, above the house where I used to live there are four cairns about eight feet high. The locals call them the “Stone Men”. Why they were built nobody can remember. Lost in the mists of time. As well as the more familiar markers we see in the English Lake District, there are one or two of these Stone Man cairns to be found on our more isolated moors.It seems to be something we have in common with our Inuit cousins.
We certainly do Norman, cairn building crosses continents and cultures. And as you know from trudging up the Lakeland fells, we places one more stone on the pile as we gasps our way to the top. Cairns are maintained by such as you and me.
Yes, I read about your cairn building in Cyprus.
The best one I can think of is Nine Standards Rigg – the ridge which is the watershed of the Pennines just east of Kirkby Stephen. Some of the cairns are about three metres tall and you can see them from miles away. It’s a heck of a long walk up there though.
Take a look here