During the latter half of the 17th century, the fervour for persecuting so-called witches was dampening as the authorities became more sceptical with the influence of the approaching Enlightenment. That said, there were still notable trials during this period. Two, in particular, are the Pollok and Paisley cases, in...

Presaging Death

Death is perhaps one of the most strongest primordial fears of the human race. We don’t know what, if anything lies beyond, and comfort can be sought in the notion that we do carry on somehow, though perhaps not in corporeal form. The idea that when we snuff it,...
The notion of the undead, or even zombies, perhaps seems like a modern phenomenon, brought about by horror movies and TV shows such a George A Romero’s Night of the Living Dead and The Walking Dead. But folklore and belief show that this is far from the case....
Slowly but gracefully mouldering in the lush forests of East Lothian lies an abandoned castle with an intriguing legend to its name. Yester Castle, also known as Goblin Ha’, has a fascinating history dating back more than 700 years and is attached to several notorious legends that make it...
The struggles and revelations of Scotland’s people are stamped into the landscape, like wrinkles on the palms of old lady history. Some experiences deep ravines. Other lines the soft touch of poetry skimming the surface like scree. With such deep history surrounding us it can’t help but inspire thoughts...
M J Steel Collins: In the first guest piece on the Folklore pages, historian Jon Kaneko-James explores the appearance of fairies in the annals of Scottish Witch Trials: As a historian, when writing about anything, the challenge comes in knowing whether something is common to an area, or whether that...
In the 19th century, the Scottish fishing industry had grown to be the largest in Europe, Herring being the main catch. The fishing fleet followed the shoals of Herring around the British Isles, accompanied by additional workers involved in the preparing the fish for sale. The stereotypical view is...
The mysterious Grey Man of Ben MacDhui, or Am Fear Liath Mór in Scottish Gaelic, bears similarity to the European folkloric tradition of the Wodewose, or ‘hairy wildmen’, which dates back to Medieval times. The Grey Man has formed parted of local folklore for some time (‘he’ is known...
by M J Steel Collins | Modern Scot Folklore Editor | Follow on Twitter Due to it’s royal connections, Glamis already has more than enough to draw the tourists in. It’s seat of the Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, and home to the Bowes-Lyons, family of Elizabeth, mother to the current...
by M.J. Steel Collins | Follow on Twitter If it wasn’t for the work of Margaret Fay Shaw and her husband, John Lorne Campbell, much of the Gaelic culture of the Hebrides might have been lost. Instead, it can be found preserved in the Canna Collections and Archives, maintained and...
by M J Steel Collins | Follow on Twitter It’s said that ghostly phenomena are quite common, with several cases of it reported in neighbourhoods the length and breadth of the country. Glasgow may not be the first place that comes to mind for many in any discussion on ghosts,...
by M J Steel Collins | Follow on Twitter On 23 December 2015, fire crews raced from Foyers, Inverness, Dingwall and Beauly to tackle a massive blaze that had broken out in Boleskine House on the South East side of Loch Ness. Smoke from the fire could be seen over...
by M J Steel Collins | Follow on Twitter The Loch Ness Monster is probably the folklore version of Elvis. She is a global superstar and known of in near enough every corner of the globe. A lively popular culture has sprung up around her, ranging from kids story books...
by The Magic Dragon Major Weir was the last man executed for witchcraft in Scotland in 1670. He lived with his unmarried sister, Grizel, in the West Bow - a Z-shaped street near Edinburgh Castle, "composed of tall antique houses, with numerous dovecot-like gables projecting over the foot way, full...
by M J Steel Collins | Follow on Twitter Each October, as Hallowe’en draws near, it’s not unusual to see articles on the paranormal crop up in the media to mark the occasion. Ghosts are a particular favourite, and in Scotland, they do go well with the dreich autumn weather....
by MJ Steel Collins | Follow on Twitter Not so much piece of folklore, but a relatively modern phenomenon with folkloric undertones, the event that was the Gorbals Vampire still has people scratching their heads. It was quite a peculiar affair that had surprising repercussions, the most significant of which...
by M J Steel Collins | Follow on Twitter As a paranormal phenomenon, Second Sight is something that has even the most sceptical parapsychologist scratching their head. In a 2006 Scotsman article “A Second Sight For Sore Eyes”, Dr Peter Lamont of the Koestler Unit at Edinburgh University notes that...
by M J Steel Collins | Follow on Twitter National Animals, like any national symbol, is described as something which is seen as representative of the population for a variety of reasons. Generally, they are a rallying point, symbolising patriotism and history, amongst other things. There are several examples of...
by M J Steel Collins | Follow on Twitter The idea of housing people in tenements and high rises came about as a way of providing much needed accommodation in areas of high demand; having people live in flats on top of one another is also a cost effective way...
by M J Steel Collins |Follow on Twitter The Isle of Skye is largest of the Inner Hebrides, at 639 square miles; it boasts several lochs, a few mountain ranges and stunning scenery. One person, whose name was lost some point down the years, stated that: “Skye is not a...
by MJ Steel Collins | Follow on Twitter The Each-Uisge and the Kelpie are rather confusing beasties. Both are water-horses, capable of shape-shifting and have a predilection for luring unwary humans to a nasty death. It’s no wonder folk get them mixed up. But there are subtle differences, defined by Scottish...
by MJ Steel Collins -- Follow on Twitter @GhostlyAspects Nestled in a corner of Auchinlea Park, next to the Forge Retail Park, Provan Hall adds some welcome quirkiness to the relative uniformity of the Easterhouse. Provand’s Lordship has the official title of the oldest house in Glasgow, but it’s...
The Glaistig is a difficult one to pin down, as she seems to have almost as many different forms as Spider-Man has movie reboots. Seeking a definition of what a Glaistig is involves quite a lot of reading. She has variously been described as a fairy, a spirit or...
Sitting on top of a sheer cliff near Trotternish on the Isle of Skye is the ruin of Duntulm Castle. Even by ancient Scottish standards, it's an old one, probably dating back to the Iron Age; one tale claims it was built in one night by 5,000 fairies.. It...