Work by Mahri Prince :: Poem by Gerda Stevenson

textile art

The Dwaum

Isabella MacDuff, Countess of Buchan, 1286 – c.1313, Fife; in defiance of her husband,  she crowned Robert the Bruce as King of Scots at Scone in 1306, during the Wars of Scottish Independence; captured by Edward I of England, and imprisoned for four years in a cage hung on the walls of Berwick Castle.

From Quines by Gerda Stevenson

Artist’s statement

A story of patriotism, defiance, control and brutal cruelty, Gerda’s poem The Dwaum had an immediate impact on me when I read it. Based on the life of Isabella MacDuff, Countess of Buchan in 14th century Fife during the Wars of Scottish Independence, Isabella’s physical and emotional pain and suffering was unimaginable.

The Countess paid a heavy price for crowning Robert the Bruce at Scone. Captured by the English King Edward’s men, Isabella was locked up in a cage suspended on the outside wall of the castle at Berwick-upon-Tweed. It is a testament to her strength of character that she survived in these awful conditions. Kept in captivity for 4 years, she endured the elements without comfort or social interaction and with only the most basic of sustenance.

I resolved to set about translating the hopelessness of her plight and my piece draws on Isabella’s dream of laying her hands upon “the saucrit stane”  –  the Stone of Destiny.