Wales

Cardiff woman's Orkney-Norway trek pulling 35kg stone

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Media captionBeatrice Searle came up with the idea after visiting Orkney

A Welsh stonemason artist will travel 1,300 miles pulling a 35kg inauguration stone to commemorate the 900th anniversary of a Scottish island's patron saint.

Beatrice Searle, 26, from Cardiff, came up with the idea after visiting Orkney.

Her masterpiece, Orkney Boat, has been carved out of a 390-million-year-old siltstone, picked from the shores of Marwick Bay, on the island's mainland.

The journey will take her to Norway where Orkney's St Magnus had roots.

In the Iron Age, inauguration stones like the Orkney Boat were used across Scotland and Ireland by kings to prove their connection with the landscape and their leadership by standing on them.

Miss Searle wants to travel with the stone to Scandinavia not only for its historical link, but for it to add to its own story, like those from the Middle Ages.

"I was making sculptural objects, mostly functional things - tools to try to bring myself closer to a closer connection with the landscape or anchor myself in the land," she said.

"Then a friend lent me a book about Orkney and just a couple of pages in I came across a photograph of the Orcadian Lady Kirkstone.

"I realised there already existed this ancient device for anchoring people in the landscape and drawing up the strength of the stone.

"I thought I had to respond to this piece of work."

She will welcome people she meets during the trip to stand on the stone and hope they feel its significance.

Her journey will take her through Orkney's mainland to the capital, Kirkwall.

From there she will travel by boat across the North Sea to Norway and from there the longest leg of the journey begins.

She will pull the rock, which weighs half her body weight, from Oslo to the northern town of Trondheim, before coming back by boat to its origins.

Miss Searle will be camping for the most part across her route with only one walker helping with equipment.

The journey is due to take the majority of the summer.

"The stone has to come back to Orkney, it has to finish its journey," she said.

"I think I may come to resent the stone if I'm really struggling and then there'll be other moments when it feels close and important."

Miss Searle hopes the stone will be laid to rest in a rural location on Orkney, so others can continue to add to its history.

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