Tag Archives: Perthshire

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


In which the Author embarks on a Halloween tour of Scotland…

From 26th October to the 12th November I’m back in Scotland for a ‘Halloween tour‘ of lectures, talks and events. I’ll have books on sale at each event.


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

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.

Bodysnatching ahoy!

Time: 1pm

Tickets: £10 (include grounds admission) – 01738 552300 or  visits@scone-palace.co.uk or  www.scone-palace.co.uk

SPECIAL: On the Saturday the talk (and the subsequent visit to the Palace graveyard) will be filmed by TF1 (the

French equivalent of BBC1) for a ‘Halloween in Scotland’ special to be broadcast in France on 2 November. Come

along and be on television!




Scottish witchcraft has by now developed its own mythology, a set of ideas that ‘everybody knows’. Geoff’s talk

will attempt to separate fantasy from historical reality, which is both stranger and more sordid than most people

suspect. By way of illustration he will detail his own groundbreaking investigations into the famous Maggie Wall

Witchcraft Monument in Perthshire, a B-listed historical monument (and favourite trysting spot for the Moors

Murderers) that, as the painted inscription states, supposedly commemorates “Maggie Wall burned here as a

Witch 1657”. The key word, boys and girls, is “supposedly”.

Venue: The Banshee Labyrinth
 29-35 Niddry Street

Time: 7.30PM

Free – More details at http://edinburgh.skepticsinthepub.org/Event.aspx/1768/Witches-in-Scotland




Venue: Hilton Glasgow Grosvener Hotel, 
Grosvener Terrace, Great Western Road / Byres Road, Glasgow

Time: from 10 am to 4.40 pm

Tickets: £35: http://www.sspr.co.uk/index.html




Zombie culture didn’t start with George Romero. Here be medieval chroniclers’ sworn-to-be-true tales of the

plague-spreading undead; the pugilistic zombie of Paisley; archeological evidence of Anglo-Saxon and Romano-

British fear of the walking dead; several ‘Ladies with the Ring’, all supposedly revived in the grave by jewel-stealing

gravediggers; the man who was hanged and buried – and then revived; the Cumbrian Crusader whose corpse was still bleeding 800 years after his death; and the bog body that solved a modern murder mystery.

Warning: contains corpses. 

Venue: The Counting House, 38 West Nicolson Street, Edinburgh EH8 9DD

Time: 7.30pm

Cost: £1 – http://www.edinburghforteansociety.org.uk/index.html

Poltergeist Over ScotlandParanormal Perthshire11 - Maggie Wall monumentzombies cover for blog

Paranormal GlasgowScottish Bodysnatchers - A Gazetteer

In which the Author undertakes a world tour of Scotland….


scotland-cottages-mapOver the next week I’m appearing at various venues and events throughout Scotland, stunning audiences into submission with my patented technique involving bluster, arms-waving and cunningly illustrated Keynote presentations.


On Friday 22 February I’m in Stenhousemuir, talking about Scottish Lore and Legend to Scouts from the Forth Valley.


On Monday 25 February I’m addressing the Dunkeld and Birnam Historical Society on the subject of ‘Paranormal Perthshire’. The event is at the Birnam Institute [http://www.birnamarts.com/index.asp?cookies=True] at 7.30pm and is open to all, although there will be a small charge at the door for non-members.


Then on Wednesday 27 February I’m talking about ‘Sex, Lies and Poltergeists at the Argyle Street branch of Waterstones in Glasgow. This free event starts at 7pm and will be followed by a signing for Poltergeist over Scotland.


Finally, on Thursday 28 February you can take in ‘An Evening of Murder with Geoff Holder’ at the Loch Leven Community Campus in Kinross. Featuring mysterious, unsolved and gruesome crimes, this talk starts at 6.30 and there’s a small entrance fee. []


See you around.



In which the author gives a talk on Mysterious Perthshire in Alyth…


On Tuesday 28 February I’ll be giving a talk on ‘Mysterious East Perthshire’, courtesy of the Alyth Literary and Philosophical Society. I’ll be discussing Big Cats, fairies, UFOs, and the bizarre local legends of Guinevere and King Arthur. And there’ll be books for sale as usual.

The event kicks off at 7.30pm and is open to everyone (£2 on the door). Ogilvie Rooms, Commercial Street, Alyth, PH11 8AF (next to Alyth Museum).


In which the author talks about witches and eats yummy things…


I recently gave a talk to the Dunning branch of the Scottish Women’s Rural Institute, on the subject of the Maggie Wall Witchcraft Monument, which stands just outside the village. It was my first talk at a SWRI, and it was quite an eyeopener. Not many of my talks start with the audience singing a song (in this case, the SWRI anthem), and even fewer involve me being asked to judge the best sweeties!


Apparently it is a tradition that all guest speakers have to judge the competitions held that night. So after selecting ‘best mask’ and ‘best flower’ I had to choose ‘best tablet’. For those not in the know, tablet is a Scottish delicacy, a very sweet caramel-like confection typically made with condensed milk. Now the standard of hand-crafted tablet on display was very high, so as the judge it was of course incumbent upon me to make sure that every sample was thoroughly tested…


This was followed by a cup of tea accompanied by delicious home-made salmon sandwiches. I think that from now on I should ask for such items to be a standard part of my ‘rider’ when I give talks…


As for the talk, it went down very well, with naturally a great deal of interest in my suggestions about the origins of the Witch Monument see here – with several alternative ideas proposed from the audience. My thanks to the SWRI for the invite and the hospitality. Now, back to writing, fuelled by tablet-tastic sugar rush…


In which the author gives a talk on the Maggie Wall Witchcraft Monument (and Kate McNiven, the Witch of Monzie)…

On Tuesday 1st November I gave an illustrated talk at Dunning Town Hall on the subject of ‘The Maggie Wall Witchcraft Monument’. I discussed my researches into another ‘famous witch who did not exist’, Kate McNiven, the Witch of Monzie. And as time allowed, we got some sightings of anomalous big cats in as well.

 The talk started at 7.30pm, at Dunning, 10 miles south of Perth and just off the A9. The event was organised by the Scottish Women’s Rural Institute, but was open to everyone, not just members of the SWRI.


My thanks, by the way, to the organisers of recent talks I’ve given, from the Breadalbane Heritage Society to the West Stormont Historical Society and the libraries of Coupar Angus and Blairgowrie. In each case the venue was full, the audience engaged, and the Q & A session replete with interest. Enjoyable times.