Gutmansdottir was her family name and the only name she went by. She said she was a botanist and was interested in studying our Wild Wood, the area of the Estate that’s virtually unchanged for over a thousand-years, if not a lot longer. I was intrigued enough by the idea that I asked our Steward at the time, Jean-Pierre, if she could use one of the staff yurts and get her meals gratis for as long as she was here.
That was seven years ago. I don’t think either party realised how bloody big her endeavour was going to be. It’s gotten so long-term that she works for me part-time for what she needs for cash and spends much of the better weather when she wasn’t working for me out there, usually several days at a time. She said that it indeed looked like nothing had been touched there except for a few standing stones, possibly what could be barrow-mounds and one bloody big stone dragon which she’d like to know the story about.
She spent the first summer just cataloguing fungi and lichen, dozens that were thought gone in Scotland. That was followed by a winter of collecting scat as that she said told her a lot about the botany of an area as reflected in the diet of hares, owls and so forth. I assisted her in setting up precipitation meters which sent their data back to a central computer by radio. The Several Annies, Iain’s Library Apprentices, spent a winter skiing out there to map the terrain and look for any signs of habitation no matter how long ago. They didn’t find any. Or at least none that was of this world…
So her work continues. We built a new, much bigger yurt with enough shelving and storage for her notes, books, tools and of course botanical samples. Not to mention her scat collection. Will she ever be done? I doubt it. I’ve got a great worker and the Estate has a superb community member.