Tag Archives: Folklore

In which the Author talks witchcraft on the Spooky Isles site…

That fine institution The Spooky Isles has one of my witterings up today, the subject being the extraordinary (and

unique) Maggie Wall witchcraft monument in Dunning, Perthshire Scotland. Appropriately, it’s part of their Spooky Scotland week.

Maggie-Wall938x150011 - Maggie Wall monument

 

The piece is based on my book Maggie Wall – The Witch Who Never Was and the title itself may give you a clue

about my conclusions regarding this amazing site, the only historical monument to a named witch in the country.

spooky isles MW

 

You can check out the piece here, and while you’re there scope out some of the other goodies on the site. My

thanks to MJ Steel Collins.

 

 

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 publishes another book (this one’s on witchcraft)…

‘Maggie Wall – The Witch Who Never Was’ is out on December 1st. Telling the story of my investigations into the

famous Maggie Wall Witchcraft Monument in Perthshire, Scotland – the only historic monument to a named witch

in the whole of the UK – it is a non-fiction detective historical story, leading to some very surprising conclusions

about this most enigmatic of monuments. Here’s the blurb:

A remarkable and striking B-listed roadside cross in Perthshire is painted with the words

‘MAGGIE WALL

BURNT HERE

AS A WITCH 1657′

Maggie Wall has subsequently become the most famous witch in Scotland, featuring in folklore, folk history and

modern pagan belief alike.
Which is strange, seeing as she never existed.
This is the story of the Witch Who Never Was.

 

‘Maggie Wall – The Witch Who Never Was’ is  published as an ebook by The New Curiosity Shop out of Edinburgh. It is currently available on Amazon/Kindle, and will soon be downloadable for Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and the Apple iBookstore. The cost is around £2.80 or $3.60. 

Maggie-Wall938x1500

skeptics1

In which the Author talks Scottish witchcraft for Skeptics in the Pub…

Halloween… where better to spend it than in a pub with the words ‘Banshee’ and

‘Labyrinth’ in its name, deep within Edinburgh Old Town, talking about Witches in Scotland?

The nice people at Skeptics in the Pub have invited me to give a Halloween special as part of their round of talks.

I’ll be discussing the historical reality of Scottish witchcraft as contrasted with its typical

portrayals, and outlining my investigations into the possible truth behind the famous Maggie Wall Witchcraft Monument in Perthshire.

The illustrated talk is free and kicks off at 7.30, at The Banshee Labyrinth, 29-35 Niddry

Street, Edinburgh EH1 1LG. I’ll be bringing books for sale, as usual.

11 - Maggie Wall monument

In which the Author digs up some bodysnatchers at Scone Palace (and gets filmed by le French TV)…

TALK: ‘THE BODYSNATCHERS OF SCONE (plus the puma, the witch and the severed head)’

On Saturday 26th & Sunday 27th I’m talking about bodysnatchers at Scone Palace near Perth, as part of the palace’s ‘Spooky Halloween’ Weekend. Both talks start at 1pm and will include a question and answer session and book signing.

Bodysnatchers CVR

On the Saturday a TV crew from TF1, the French equivalent of BBC1, will film both the talk and me mooching about in the nearby Old Scone graveyard, talking more about bodysnatching. They’re filming a ‘Halloween in Scotland’ special for the early evening magazine show ‘50 MInutes Inside‘, to be broadcast on 2 November.

Here’s the press release for the Scone Palace event:

“Renowned Perthshire author Geoff Holder is set to bring a chill to the spine of visitors to Scone Palace, with a special illustrated talk during this year’s Spooky Hallowe’en Weekend, from 26th to 27th October.

In 1820, under the darkness of a winter’s night, a group of bodysnatchers sneaked into Scone churchyard and dug up a corpse, a corpse that they would later sell for a good price. Unfortunately for them, the body had belonged in life to a much-loved 80- year-old retainer at Scone Palace. The Earl of Mansfield was not best pleased, and went on the warpath…

Join Geoff as he delves into the dark world of the Resurrectionists, the strange collaboration of hardened criminals and respectable medical men who broke into coffins and stole bodies for the dissecting tables of the anatomists. What happened to the Scone corpse? Which Perth doctor was a member of the gang? And why did one of the bodysnatchers end up in South America?

And if such skulduggery wasn’t enough, this unique talk also covers other historical mysteries of Scone  – sightings of big cats, the Scone witch and her black book, and the enigma of the missing preserved head of a saint.

Talks will be held daily at 1.00pm in our Murray Room Suite here at Scone Palace.

Tickets are £10.00 per person including Grounds Admission. Places are limited and we adivise early booking to avoid disappointment.

To book your place, please call 01738 552300.”

Scone palace

 

zombies cover for blog 3

In which the Author reanimates some historical zombies…

The Walking Dead. Walkers. Biters. Eaters. The Infected. The Contaminated. The Re-animated. Revenants. The

Living Dead. Whatever you want to call them, the zombie apocalypse is coming. You know it, I know it.

So, faced with the inevitable, what do you do? Do you wait until that dull bloke from No.37 is lurching through the

French windows, intent on feasting on your entrails? Or do you step up, take some pride in your actions, and take out some of history’s big guns before you are finally eaten?

If the latter, then you are in the right place. The end of September sees the publication of Zombies from History: A Hunter’s Guide, the all-in-one guidebook on how to take out sixty high-value targets from Britain’s illustrious (and

ignoble) past. The good and the great mix with famous criminals, rebels and pirates. Do you itch to take on one of

the grandees of nineteenth century literature, or test yourself against an axe-wielding medieval bampot? Wrestle

with Nelson? Battle with Boudica? Then this, friend, is your opportunity. Where they are buried, what wounds and weaknesses they bear, height, age, difficulty level – everything the fully prepared and thoughtful zombie hunter

needs to know.

Note that contemporary zombie culture did not start with Night of the Living Dead. The dead have been returning

for centuries. Zombies from History is therefore peppered with accounts of those who were declared dead but yet

lived; those who survived the hangman’s noose or were buried alive; and descriptions of bog bodies, preserved

corpses and mummified remains. In addition, there are juicy bits of folklore, tall tales and unlikely legends

concerning the walking dead, most taken from historical accounts that stretch back more than a thousand years.

Over the next few days and weeks I’ll be sharing some zombified portraits of famous Britons.  To kick off, here’s

the king of the car park, Richard III, on the book’s cover.

zombies cover