The Light House, in the Borders, Scotland

The Light House

by day the light floods in, by night it radiates out

page compiled by Stella for the chamber and dance community of Scotland. 

We wanted to build a chamber to host the Chamber Keepers’ and Chiefs’ Gathering in 2008 and we had just three years to do it in!  We decided to put up a temporary structure in the corner of the field where we hold the Sun Moon Dance:

1 site in 2003 

What could we build that would be appropriate?  Deep in the winter of 2005 a group of us made a trip to Archaeolink (unfortunately now closed) at Oyne, Aberdeenshire, because we had heard that there was a reconstructed Iron Age house there.  This is the house we visited:

2 Iron Age roundhouse 

What a fabulous building, a spacious and comfortable communal living space, tugging at our ancestral heart strings!  Could we build one?  No, but we could build something in a similar style as an appreciation of, and a thank you to, the Ancestors. 

The result is that our chamber building incorporates the archetypal roundhouse frame but the standing area is increased by ‘a modern extension’ fitted around the periphery. 

3 cross section the Light House




 Our decision to use wany edge timber for the walls meant that the building is not a circle, but a dodecahedron. 



4 aerial view the Light House 


The call went out for volunteers and in nine weekend work parties over the next three years the chamber was built. 


One example of the ease with which this project came together was the fortuitous thinning of a local wood when we were given the trunks we needed for the framework.  After stripping them of bark we left them over winter to season out.  On a bitterly cold March weekend we set the inner ring of posts into the ground and fitted the ring beam.  Next time we met the outer ring was done.  In the summer, at the sixth work party, the diagonal poles went up.  The top ring beam and the rafters on the upper and lower rooves were also fitted then. 

5 skeleton completed


The following year, 2008, we met on three occasions to do the wany edge walls, the polytunnel roof, the doors, also of wany edge, and the ring of gravel bag seating. 


The Light House Chamber had arrived

6 Light House and Dance arbour

7 West and East

Rogues Gallery

The Keeper of the Light House is Josie Bayes.  She lives on a hill overlooking the site.  And here she is, in the blue hat, along with pictures of some other members of the motley crew.

we are keen but so is the wind

After stipping the bark from the felled pine trees and leaving them to season out for half a year, we met in early March to set the vertical posts of the inner ring into the ground:

We are keen, but so is the wind!

chain saw gang


Work kept us cheerful and warm.


10 down in the woods todayOccasionally we retreated to the shelter of the trees, or up on the scaffolding!

11 still shakin' it boss





At summer work parties we wore less clothes:

13 at least one work party was warm


 but took as many breaks:

14 seat builders also sit

 keeping in line with long standing traditions:

12 very sacred items






There are people who, while often being present, never turn up in the photographs. 

This picture is for all of them: 

15 the lady in pink

 Many, many thanks to all those who took part in this amazing enterprise

white border

Filed under: Chambers | Posted on March 19th, 2010 by Stella

Home Visions Chambers Gatherings Living Lightly A Sound Path About & Contact