Tag Archives: burke and hare

In which the Author has a bodysnatching review on the Spooky Isles site…

That fine institution the Spooky Isles website has just upped a nice review of my book

Scottish Bodysnatchers: A Gazetteerscribed by Fortean writer Mandy Jane Steel Collins. You can indulge your

eyeballs at the Spooky Isles site here, while the book can be reached here, and I’ve a video trailer here.

Scottish Bodysnatchers came out a couple of years ago so perhaps it’s worth a brief recap. It aims to provide a

comprehensive guide to every physical remnant of the bodysnatching era in Scotland, from mortsafes and

morthouses to watch towers and other protection devices. It tells you where to find these relics (whether in

graveyards, churches or museums), and what to look for. Many of the sites are obscure, hidden, long-forgotten or have not previously been written about. Yes, the fieldwork research was fun…

In addition, there are anecdotes and news stories from the bodysnatching era, some of which may be early

versions of urban legends. Burke and Hare of course make an appearance, but bear in mind that they were serial killers, not bodysnatchers, their murders being driven by greed for the cash being offered for fresh corpses.

Scottish Bodysnatchers - A Gazetteer

The book covers not only the well-trodden bodysnatching paths of Edinburgh and Glasgow, but sites across the

country, from Aberdeenshire and the Highlands to the Scottish Borders, Ayrshire, Perthshire, Fife, Dundee and

Stirling. Given that there really isn’t any similar book out there, a number of readers have written to me describing how useful the book is for those interested in hunting out bodysnatching sites in their area – “well-thumbed” is a

typical comment. “An invaluable reference work” was another.

Happy to be of service, fellow bodysnatching fans. And remember to wash the dirt from your hands before

handling food…

In which the Author is interviewed in the Edinburgh Evening News…




There was a feature on Bloody History of Scotland: Edinburgh in the Edinburgh Evening News on Saturday 13 October. Entitled “‘Edinburgh is a blood-soaked place’: An alternative history of the Capital,” the piece covered topics such as public executions, heads on spikes and the cannibal Earl of Dunlanrig, and also included an interview with the humble author in which I actually manage to sound semi-coherent.


You can see Jen Lavery’s article at:




In which the Author has another book published…


The latter part of October sees the publication of my latest attempt at world literary domination, The Bloody History of Scotland: Edinburgh. The book is a speedy and sanguinary sprint through the city’s dark past, taking in everything from massacres and murders to witchcraft, torture and executions.


Events commence in the Dark Ages with the annihilation of the Goddodin warrior tribe, and continue through medieval wars and sieges onto dastardly deeds surrounding Mary, Queen of Scots, and a veritable rogues’ gallery of assassins, rioters, pirates, hangmen and cannibals. Bodysnatchers, serial killers, poisoners and Zeppelins bring up the rear, and, for light relief, there is also a diversion into Edinburgh’s nineteenth-century brothels and houses of pleasure, with their associated crimes, court cases and general depravity.


  1. “And There Was Slaughter”
  2. A Barricade of Dead Horses!
  3. Tortured to Death over Three Days – For Killing the King!
  4. Murdered at the Sign of the Black Bull!
  5. Slaughter on the Streets!
  6. “Burn Edinburgh to the Ground!”
  7. A Tapestry of Naked Corpses!
  8. Stabbed To Death – In Front of the Queen!
  9. Death of a King: Blown Up and Strangled
  10. Siege!
  11. Death and the Maiden
  12. A Sea Battle – Inside the Harbour
  13. Drowned Alive in the Loch!
  14. Burn the Witch!
  15. Plague
  16. A Concentration Camp – in the middle of Edinburgh
  17. The Dismembered Marquis!
  18. The Wizard of West Bow
  19. The Hangman was a Murderer
  20. He Roasted the Servant on a Spit – and then ate him!
  21. He Fired into the Crowd – and was Lynched by the Mob!
  22. Jacobite Conflicts and the War of the Chamber Pots
  23. Riot!
  24. Piracy and Murder of the High Seas!
  25. Duel!
  26. Fire!
  27. Burke and Hare – Serial Killers!
  28. Poison!
  29. Hanged By The Neck Until Ye Be Dead
  30. The Night of the Zeppelins
  31. Sex and Death


You can find more about the book through Facebook and from the website of the publishers, The History Press. Upcoming media coverage includes features in The Edinburgh Evening News and The Scottish Daily Mail. There’s also a free illustrated talk on the book taking place at the splendid Blackwells Bookshop on South Bridge in Edinburgh on Tuesday 6 November. The humble author will be waving his arms about and bellowing on about grisly deeds and ghastly anecdotes from 6.30pm, and signing books after the talk as well.


There shall be blood!



In which the author gives a talk on bodysnatching – in a graveyard…


On Thursday 22 March I’m at the North Ayrshire Heritage Centre in Saltcoats giving a talk on Scottish Bodysnatchers.


The venue, formerly the North Ayrshire Museum, is housed in an eighteenth century church, so the first few minutes of the talk – how to rob a grave, bodysnatcher-style, will start in the graveyard itself. Then we’ll relocate to the comfort of the museum for the illustrated talk on bodysnatching across Scotland in general, with many Ayrshire examples.


The event is FREE and starts at 7pm. Call 01294 464174 to reserve a seat.


North Ayrshire Heritage Centre, Manse Street, Saltcoats KA21 5AA. Map here.