Heriot Toun in summer

Words for Winter 2018

Directions for Finding Out the True North



1. Shadows: The shadow of a stick will point due north at noon.

2. Recognition by smell: Coal smoke, peat smoke, herring, oatmeal, the snow-wind.

3. By the pelts of animals: Hares, foxes, stoats, ptarmigans, falcons, and owls are white, when it is true North.

4. Phenomena: The rime-ringed sun, The Northern Lights, the crystal sea, the snell wind, darkness at noon, half-year's light.

5. Magnetic North: At the North Magentic Pole, the strength of the compass is zero. It follows that close to the pole,  a compass starts to behave erratically, and eventually becomes unusable. The magnetic field does not remain constant. Complex fluid motion in the outer core of the earth causes it to change slowly with time. This change is known as secular variation.

6. By a sense of quviannikumut. Inuit: 'feeling deeply happy'.

7. Shapeshifting: Not werewolves, but selkies.



Peter Davidson, Jane Stevenson.

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