COMPOSER, artist and performer Hanna Tuulikki investigates the relationship between the voice, the body, landscape, histories and the environment. Some of her work is currently on show at Glasgow’s CCA as part of Lilt, Twang, Tremor, an exhibition with fellow Scottish artists Sarah Rose and Susannah Stark examining the human voice. As part of the exhibition, Tuulikki will perform Women Of The Hill on Friday January 12, a song cycle for three female vocalists inspired by the High Pasture Cave, an ancient site near Kilbride on the Isle of Skye.

WOMEN Of The Hill is a song-cycle I devised for three female performers in 2015, responding to the archaeology and topography of High Pasture Cave – Uamh An Ard-Achaidh, a complex inland cave-system on Skye. Commissioned by ATLAS arts, the performance took place in a hollow at the cave’s hidden entrance, at sunset on October 31.

I initially became interested in High Pasture on hearing how an iron age burial of a young woman had been discovered there during an excavation. Pollen analysis revealed her corpse had been laid to rest on willow catkins, red campion, holly flowers and water lilies, indicating she was of great importance to her community; possibly even a priestess. On visiting for the first time, I sat in the womb-tomb-like cavern, listening to the rush of water through the limestone passage, singing every so often. The acoustic was unexpectedly dry, though what I discovered outside was remarkable: on singing at the hill above, I was amazed to find the hill sang back, echoing my voice.

Talking with archaeologists Martin Wildgoose and George Kozikowski, I wasn’t surprised to hear this area, as well as the cave, hosted community rituals: the bridge of a musical lyre was found in the ashes of a fire at the entrance, and domestic items were ritually deposited inside as votive offerings: spindle whorls, quern-stones, and metal jewellery.

Archaeological evidence and folklore suggest these rituals belonged to a matriarchal culture dedicated to the goddess Bride, whose name is fossilised in the local place-name Kilbride. Having an interest in feminist archaeology and alternative readings of prehistory, High Pasture, as a relic of a forgotten matrifocal culture, felt appropriate as a portal to step through and explore.

The resulting performance animates the hidden lore embedded in the land, utilising the natural echo phenomena of the hill, incorporating costume, choreography, props and set. The narrative is in three parts: first, the otherworld, with a wordless singing match between two female deities, Bride and Cailleach, whose names, preserved in local landmarks, according to folklore, battle at the meeting of the seasons; then shifting into the past, from the mythic Mother-goddess of the earth, to the Iron Age mother, a funeral is reimagined for the mysterious woman interred at the cave’s threshold; and then finally the audience is guided into present day, welcoming in Samhain (Celtic New Year) with songs and a toast to our matriarch ancestors – the women of the hill.

As part of the Lilt, Twang, Tremor exhibition at the CCA, I am revisiting Women Of The Hill and, in collaboration with the original performers Nerea Bello and Lucy Duncombe, re-imagining it for a theatre setting, with costume pieces made from significant plant materials by Caroline Dear.

It will be the first time I have brought a site-specific work made outdoors into a theatre space and I am excited by the possibilities. I look forward to experimenting with recreating the hill’s echo, the atmosphere of the place, and to the luxury of singing indoors! We will, of course, end with a toast, but this time, to the new year coming as we cross the threshold into 2018.

Friday January 12, 7pm, free but ticketed, CCA, Glasgow. Tel: 0141 352 4900. Lilt, Twang, Tremor runs at the CCA, Glasgow, until Sunday January 14