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Highland hermit's book is tribute to Morbius the goat and a 'way of life that has been lost'


By David G Scott

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A 63-year-old man living off-grid without running water and electricity in a home he built himself in the Lybster area has penned a new book about his life and friendship with a goat called Morbius.

The touching tale by Marcus Moon recounts his days travelling through Scotland on a horse drawn wagon along with his goats before he came to Caithness in the early 2000s and eventually settled on ground he purchased in Upper Lybster.

"People probably think I'm a hippie but I'm not," said Marcus as he fuelled the stove in his self-built home he took six years to complete. "If you look around at all the books I have here they are on spiritual themes. I have an interest in occult subjects...the mystical arts but nothing evil."

Marcus Moon with the book he recently self-published about his travels with Morbius the goat. Picture: DGS
Marcus Moon with the book he recently self-published about his travels with Morbius the goat. Picture: DGS

He started writing The Legend of Morbius back in 2019 and finished it earlier this year. "I struggled to find a publisher and eventually just self-published it but I'd rather not do it that way. At the moment, the local post office in Lybster have the book for sale as well as The Dornoch Bookshop."

New book by Marcus Moon called The Legend of Morbius.
New book by Marcus Moon called The Legend of Morbius.
Marcus dancing with Morbius in an image reproduced in the new book.
Marcus dancing with Morbius in an image reproduced in the new book.
Marcus Moon with Morbius the goat.
Marcus Moon with Morbius the goat.
A picture in the book showing Marcus with two of his goat friends.
A picture in the book showing Marcus with two of his goat friends.

The Legend of Morbius is a tale of the trials and tribulations Marcus, originally from Dundee, faced trying to find a place to settle down in as he felt out of touch with life in towns and cities. "I had 12 copies to start with and they're all gone now. I've ordered another 20 and if I sell them I'll order some more." He says that he will have copies for sale, costing £10, when he busks in Wick and Thurso town centres playing guitar and singing some of his own compositions.

Marcus composes his own songs and describes himself as a very spiritual man. He regularly busks in Dornoch, Wick and Thurso. Picture: DGS
Marcus composes his own songs and describes himself as a very spiritual man. He regularly busks in Dornoch, Wick and Thurso. Picture: DGS

"Everybody's in a good mood around Christmas so it's a good time to go out busking. I can make maybe £40 or £50 in a day but come January it's no good at all and I don't bother going out."

Marcus says his new book is about "a way of life that has been lost" and where people lived closer to nature."It's about a way of life that was community based and where everybody knew their neighbours and things were produced locally. That way of life has just been thrown aside. A lot of the old style of community has been lost – that is a big theme of the book."

Marcus Moon at the home he built in the Upper Lybster area. Picture: DGS
Marcus Moon at the home he built in the Upper Lybster area. Picture: DGS
Marcus tends to a vegetable patch outside his home. Picture: DGS
Marcus tends to a vegetable patch outside his home. Picture: DGS
Marcus believes he has planted close to 20,000 native species of trees on his land over the years. Picture: DGS
Marcus believes he has planted close to 20,000 native species of trees on his land over the years. Picture: DGS

He said that ever since the age of 25 he saw himself as a social activist and claims he spent around five years trying to "destroy capitalism" when he lived in Manchester. "I was given a supernatural mission. God spoke to me and said 'I want you to try and destroy capitalism' and I went 'I can't do that' and He said 'never mind, just have a go'. I worked for a big company for five years and it ended up losing a lot of its business and I got sacked because they discovered what I was up to."

Turf on the roof makes a good insulation layer to keep the buildings warm and dry. Picture: DGS
Turf on the roof makes a good insulation layer to keep the buildings warm and dry. Picture: DGS
Marcus built his home with stones he found on his land along with other recovered items and solid timber he bought. Picture: DGS
Marcus built his home with stones he found on his land along with other recovered items and solid timber he bought. Picture: DGS
The toilet where everything is composted. Picture: DGS
The toilet where everything is composted. Picture: DGS

He said that God was pleased with his work and that he could now devote the rest of his life to building an alternative society. "The message I want to get across in the book is [telling people] to make their lives an adventure. Every single person has something they are good at doing and they should find out what it is and pursue it. Only then can they find contentment and happiness."

Marcus says he may write another book that will continue to explain his journey through life and how he ended up in Caithness. Morbius the goat died in a tragic accident, detailed in the book, when he was strangled by a tethering rope. Like all the animals he has kept over the years he felt a deep spiritual connection with Morbius and even felt the goat had lived a previous life in the ancient Incan empire hundreds of years ago.

Marcus holds the skin of Morbius who died in a tragic accident recounted in the book. Picture: DGS
Marcus holds the skin of Morbius who died in a tragic accident recounted in the book. Picture: DGS
He drinks rainwater collected in a barrel. Picture: DGS
He drinks rainwater collected in a barrel. Picture: DGS
Entrance to the house. Picture: DGS
Entrance to the house. Picture: DGS
Some of the many items Marcus has collected over the years. Picture: DGS
Some of the many items Marcus has collected over the years. Picture: DGS
Marcus in his house. Picture: DGS
Marcus in his house. Picture: DGS

On the 14 acres of land he bought 10 years ago, Marcus claims to have planted close to 20,000 native species of trees and has built his house and various outbuildings, including a toilet, from a mix of seasoned timber he bought along with reclaimed stones from derelict buildings and a hodge-podge of found items such as window frames. His bedroom come sitting room is lit by candles and heated with a cosy stove he feeds from a woodpile of locally sourced logs, branches and twigs. The house also has a turf roof that helps keep it well insulated.

"I've helped other people in the area build their houses and have some masonry skills with drystone and mortar. I've basic skills with doing wood and put all this place together. I did renovations in Perthshire and wanted to live there but the land was so expensive."

Marcus put together the buildings with bought timber and a hodge-podge of found items he recovered from the land. Picture: DGS
Marcus put together the buildings with bought timber and a hodge-podge of found items he recovered from the land. Picture: DGS
Marcus in a moment of contemplation. Picture: DGS
Marcus in a moment of contemplation. Picture: DGS
Feeding the stove with wood recovered from the land. Picture: DGS
Feeding the stove with wood recovered from the land. Picture: DGS

Marcus says that in the 19th century an ex-soldier lived on his plot of land. "He was a veteran of [the Battle of] Waterloo and walked from France back to Caithness. They built a house for him down there but it was thrown up and the stonework is atrocious. Its now got vegetables in it."

Marcus relaxes in his cosy bedroom. He has no electricity and uses candles to light the house. Picture: DGS
Marcus relaxes in his cosy bedroom. He has no electricity and uses candles to light the house. Picture: DGS
Marcus Moon at the home he built in the Upper Lybster area. Picture: DGS
Marcus Moon at the home he built in the Upper Lybster area. Picture: DGS

His vision for the future involves seeing his trees grow into a forest. "There were no trees here at all when I came. Now the trees are starting to reproduce themselves and there's a lot more birdlife. There's an orchard with apples that I've been using to make cider and feed the pony.

"I'm really quite content and happy with my life here."

Marcus Moon's book is available at the post office in Lybster, The Dornoch Bookshop and from the writer himself if you can catch him busking in Wick or Thurso.


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