Stories from the Islands

The Return of Life  

Written by Bernie Bell

We’ve taken an interest in Arcadia Park since its inception, had heard about the recently installed sculptures, and thought we’d have a look. First of all, at the main entrance – two Voles, cuddling. I like Voles… I like cuddling

Turning to our left along the main path we came upon a lone Vole, marooned on a rock among the puddles.

Then we walked on, to discover The Lair of the Dragon’s Head. When we previously visited Arcadia Park, there was a mound with a row of boulders leading up it, as described here.

The story goes that a dragon’s head, thrown by Thor, landed on this mound and made a crater. If you’re wondering what I’m on about – the pupils of Kirkwall Grammar School wrote the story of the sculpture.

A long time ago Thor and Loki were brothers – they argued all the time.

One particular argument they had was about who could make the best item that would come alive. Loki decided that he wanted a dragon so he asked two dwarf brothers to make this for him. They agreed and set to work. 

They first lit the fires under Mount Hekla so that they could forge their dragon from metal. They started working on the dragon and had made its head when unfortunately the fires burned so hot that they caused the volcano to explode.

Loki was viewing their work at this time and when he realised that the volcano was going to explode, being a shape shifter, he turned himself into a spider and the dwarves into voles.  When the volcano finally erupted the dragon’s head blew way out into space.

Meanwhile due to Mount Hekla erupting, that caused a huge ash cloud to travel over Scotland. It seemed to stop over Orkney and it caused the skies to darken and block out the sun for many years.
This caused all the plant and most of the animal life on Orkney to die off and it became almost a barren wasteland. There were no trees, grass, birds, frogs, butterflies etc.

The dragon’s head finally landed on Asgard where Thor and Loki live. Unfortunately it actually landed on Thor’s head and he became very angry. So angry in fact that he picked up the dragon’s head and threw it very far away.

The dragon’s head flew through space and eventually landed in Arcadia Park, Orkney. Due to Thor having touched this item, some of his good thoughts etc. were infused into the dragon’s head. This then started life again in Arcadia Park. 

The ash clouds dispersed, the grass started to grow again, meaning that insects could then live in the Park again. Flowers and trees started to grow and bloom, the ground collected water from rain and it became a pond, making homes and food for other kinds of wildlife, such as butterflies, tadpoles, frogs, birds etc.

The dragon’s head still sits in Arcadia Park to this day and Loki (Spider) and the Dwarves (Voles) can still be seen embedded into the dragon’s head.”

And I’ll now take you along the flooded, stone-lined chasm …

… into the Lair of The Dragon’s Head …

… with resident Spiders …

… and Voles …

I think this is a wonderful, magical thing with its story of the renewal of life after destruction – fitting well with the time of year as the return of the sun wakens the sleeping life in the world. And also, hopefully, renewal after the scenes of destruction that the world is going through in these times.

The only difficulty is – I can’t find out who made the sculpture, and I’d like to credit them. All I can find is who funded it – Sustrans Artroots – so, I’ll give them credit for doing so!

This article first appeared in Bernie’s blog.

About the author

Bernie Bell

Bernie Bell lives in Orkney, is interested in everything – wonders about many things – is confused by many things. “It makes life interesting – or should I say even more interesting.”