REMAINS of rural life from a remote Dumfries & Galloway farmhouse have been brought to life in a new poem for StAnza by Mae Diansangu.

In 2019, archaeologists and volunteers from the Can You Dig It (CYDI) community archaeology programme investigated a deserted farmstead called Upper Gairloch. Looking to showcase a fresh perspective on Scotland’s past during the pandemic, Dig It! – a hub for Scottish archaeology – commissioned Diansangu to write a poem inspired by the site. They worked online with Claire Williamson, an archaeologist from Rathmell Archaeology and project manager for CYDI.

In use as a steading since the 17th century, the CYDI team were able to marry up the site’s archaeological record with written sources, such as maps and census records, to piece together the lives of the people who once lived there. Diansangu was inspired by the festival theme of “Make It New” and chose to write the poem in Doric, the Scots language spoken in the north-east of Scotland around Aberdeen. In the poem, they used the site to reflect on the similarities between people today and people in the past who share some of the same wants, anxieties and experiences across the centuries.

Diansangu said: “As a Black Aberdonian, I have been asked where I’m ‘really from’ more times than I could possibly count. I believe this experience of being othered has informed certain recurring themes in my work; specifically place, identity, belonging and one’s connection to their ancestral past.”