The following writings were discovered during renovation work on the keep of Castle Uamhas in the far Western Isles, off the coast of Scotland. It was written on parchment that had been preserved hidden within the stonework of the walls, which have withstood the intolerable climate of those wild islands for more than a thousand years. The original text was presented in the Scots Gaelic language, but, that tongue being unfathomable to most, has here been translated into English.

(The top portion of the parchment is torn and the first section missing.)

…be long gone. I have lost track of how long they have kept me here. My only view is through a narrow cross slit in the wall. I watch the grey sun rise and fall but I have lost count of the days, weeks and months. I can see the grey castle and the grey sky. My whole world is grey and dark now. I cannot determine the seasons passing as they all maintain their grey nature in this forsaken place. The castle truly does have a fitting title.

I am charged with blasphemy and heresy. They offer me the chance to repent and promise me a quick and painless death if I do, but I cannot. You know my views, my love, and I express them still. How can there be a God when he allows so much pestilence, poverty and war among his children? The longer I am held in such cruel captivity, the more I am convinced there can be no God to allow such hatred and intolerance, and he is certainly not present within those who imprison me.

(…section unintelligible…) …rant and swear, acting the madman, but I swear to you I am sane and my conscience is clear… (section unintelligible)

Be assured my feelings for you are stronger than ever, but you must give up hope of seeing me again. You would be wise to forget about me and flee far from this place before they come for you as well. It is not safe for you any longer. I hope to give this note to a jailer of the keep, one who has shown me some hint of mercy. If it should reach you, please heed my council.

(…section unintelligible…the writing becomes a hurried scrawl henceforth…) I hear footsteps outside, even though the morning has not yet fully broken. I fear it may be time to meet my fate before I have opportunity to enact my plan for this letter. At least I shall have my answer to the charge with which I am held. I shall know soon enough if there is a God or not. I shall hide this letter in the wall of my cell and endeavour to send it to you should I ever return.

I must go quickly. Until we meet again, my love,…

(The bottom portion of the parchment is similarly lost, where the signature of the author would have been found).

No records have ever been discovered recording those held in the keep of Castle Uamhas. When the flooring of the keep was removed, buried underneath were the remains of several human beings. These, and the letter, have been entrusted to the National Museum of Scotland for safe keeping and further archaeological investigation.

Copyright Sue Vincent

This is a response to the #writephoto Prompt: Keep curated over at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo. Click on the link to read other stories inspired by the image.


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21 responses to “THE HERETIC”

  1. A wonderful story, Iain, yet a terrible fate for thosr whose heart cannot conform.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Sue, glad you liked it.


  2. Nice! I want to know more about the protagonist, and the events that led to his imprisonment. I really feel for him.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you – that’s the thing with these scraps of history – we can never find out the true story 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow! Very powerful and touching story.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much 🙂


  4. A gripping story Iain, I enjoyed it 💜

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, always appreciated 🙂


      1. There is always so much to a story like this one. Based on what could be true 💜

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much Liz 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Brilliant format, Iain…made the story so real…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, I enjoyed writing this one 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. […] This is the other half to a story I submitted for #writephoto last week, although it should make sense on its own. If you want to read the first part, you can find it here: THE HERETIC. […]


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