Scotland's Odd Eco Eden

by Nancy Lyon

Near the entrance to the Findhorn Park is a nod to the Highlands' old Gaelic culture, albeit an eyesore to Findhorn's administrators: a funky vintage caravan with a hand-carved sign proudly announcing the name of this humble dwelling: Tír Tairngire - Scots Gaelic for “The Promised Land.”

Original caravans like this are being consigned to the graveyard

Original caravans like this are being consigned to the graveyard


This caravan is an early Findhorn settler's tin "croft" with birch log extensions - draped in foliage and wonderfully quirky, with sparkling CD’s hanging from the trees to scare away marauding crows from the vegetable gardens. You will not find it on the Findhorn Foundation map of the Eco Village.

As Findhorn evolves within the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) as a United Nations-endorsed Ecovillage Training Centre - attracting students, eco-warriors and professionals from around the world - these old caravans are being hauled away to the crusher. Since my first visit to Findhorn in 2002, most old caravans have been removed as their occupants have died, departed, or moved into more upscale "eco" housing. The caravan-size earthen gravesites are covered with costly new rental caravans and new eco houses costing a handsome fortune—like a good half-million pounds! The original thinking was that you built or bought an eco-house in The Field of Dreams only if you intended—and vowed—to become a member of the Findhorn community. But greed is greed and in 2004, when I played with the idea of buying a house there, I was shown a house built by an architect who had a house in the village of Findhorn, who obviously built the “eco house” in the park as an investment. It was small, had no garden, and looked out the window into the window of its neighbors.

Findhorn’s eco village borders an R.A.F. Airforce Base…

.... and loves cars



It's a bizarre idealogical juxtaposition, that this peaceful eco village of 700 - herbalists and healers, poets and potters and shamans - should have blossomed right next door to the Kinloss Royal Air Force base, training fighter pilots since it opened in 1939. And now that Moray’s Lossiemouth RAF base is set for a £400 million upgrade with more personnel, military infrastructure and weapons, there will be even more military training near Findhorn. Up until 2012 you had to brace yourself for the vrooooooooom of the low-flying Nimrod MRA4's, each loaded with two pilots, two Weapons System Officers and six Weapons Systems Operators. Now it will be the Typhoon and Tornado jets overhead as Kinloss becomes a back-up runway and base for Lossiemouth. Oh dear…

What an odd place to locate an RAF base: on marshland inhabited with large water birds. Of course the WWII wartime thinking was 'hide a British airbase far, far away in the North of Scotland, for maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare.’ But tragically (and obviously) in November of 1980, two pilots died when their aircraft hit birds on take off and crashed in the Kinloss woods. So one wonders, are there any water birds left? Or have they all been pre-emptively executed? 

Oddly, the wide road in front of the Findhorn Visitor's Centre is actually the RAF's old runway. It's still called "The Runway" and RAF personnel drive their cars over it to buy their weekly boxes of Findhorn's organic veggies.
Tibetan prayer flags and wind turbines

Tibetan prayer flags and wind turbines

FORRES, Morayshire

Haunt of three witches of Shakepeare’s play Macbeth.. In real life, witches were burned here, after being rolled down Cluny Hill in barrels. A mysterious sickness afflicting the 10th century King Duff (Dubh) was supposed to have been caused by witches found here torturing a wax effigy of him.
— Supernatural SCOTLAND: A Wonderfully Chilling Guide to Scotland's Rich Supernatural Heritage by Harry Campbell,Harper Collins Publishers,1999,
Dreamy stained glass transforms cold northern light

Dreamy stained glass transforms cold northern light

A brilliantly-colored yurt is not out of place at Findhorn

A brilliantly-colored yurt is not out of place at Findhorn

There have been stories in the press and other media about a small community in the north of Scotland called Findhorn, where people talk to plants with amazing results - stories of vegetable and flower gardens animated by angelic forms ... stories of plants performing incredible feats of growth and endurance: 40-pound cabbages, 8-foot delphiniums, and roses blooming in the snow - all a short distance from the Arctic Circle...[on] a cold windblown peninsula jutting into the North Sea with soil as sandy and worthless as your local beach.
— THE MAGIC OF FINDHORN, by Paul Hawken; Fontana/Collins © 1975

Is this Scotland?

So many iconic Scottish landscape features - Bronze Age cairns and Pictish stone carvings and the Culloden Battlefield site of the Highland clan system’s collapse - are an easy bicycle ride from the Findhorn Foundation and its “Field of Dreams” on Scotland’s Moray Coast. Yet Findhorn’s Eco Village - except for its Scottish whisky barrel eco houses - hardly looks like Scotland at all. 


For one thing, the bank notes exchanged at Findhorn aren't even Scottish. Rather than featuring Scotland's savior Robert the Bruce, Findhorn's Ekos depict wind turbines and the grand timber houses in the "Field of Dreams."

Findhorn has developed its own monetary system to keep money circulating within the Findhorn community. One Eko equals one British/Scottish Pound Sterling. Spend a 10 Eko note in the Phoenix shop, and you get change in Ekos to spend elsewhere in the eco village - at the cafe or the restaurant. You can trade Ekos back for sterling before you leave. But lots of Findhorn visitors take them home as souvenirs - which means that the sterling the Ekos represent doesn't get spent outside of Findhorn.


Findhorn has its own monetary system to keep money circulating within the Findhorn community. One Eko equals one pound Sterling