Scottish Folklore: Exploring Haunted Castles and Mystical Fairy Hills with Dr. Alan Montgomery

Scottish Folklore: Exploring Haunted Castles and Mystical Fairy Hills with Dr. Alan Montgomery


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Thursday, May 20, 2021 at 1:00 PM EDT
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Passed by word of mouth from generation to generation, Scotland’s folklore is rich with countless tales of witches and sorcerers, fairies, and phantoms. Today, it is possible to visit many places associated with these legends, including castles, standing stones, and monuments, from the islands of Orkney in the north to the city of Edinburgh in the south. Join us for a saunter through Scotland’s most magical destinations as we discuss the mysterious myths and legends associated with them.

This seminar will lead us on an imaginary tour around Scotland, stopping off at various sites along the way to discuss their history and the enigmatic stories that have grown up around them. Starting in the windswept islands to the north and west of the mainland, we will hear stories of a giant who inhabited a hollowed-out rock and of witless humans who wandered into the fairy realm. 

Further south, we will explore Cawdor Castle, its ancient tower built around the trunk of a thorn tree and its chambers haunted by a ghostly ‘Blue Lady’. Not far away is Fyvie Castle, another haunted house where it is also possible to see a mysterious (and cursed) ‘weeping stone’. The south of Scotland has its own wealth of legends, and this seminar will look in particular at the horrifying outcome of the sixteenth and seventeenth-century Scottish obsession with witchcraft and sorcery. Our travels will end at the overgrown ruins of Yester Castle, which sit above a vast vaulted cellar said to have been built by supernatural hands.

Led by a Scottish historian who has long been fascinated by Scotland’s myths and legends, this interactive seminar will explore a selection of the country's most intriguing and mysterious old tales and explore the atmospheric historical places with which they are associated. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an insight into the folklore and history of this magical nation.

Alan Montgomery was born and raised in Scotland but has spent most of his adult life in London. Having achieved an MA in Art History at Glasgow University, he worked for many years in the art world at both an international auction house and an antique dealer. In recent years he has returned to academia, achieving an MA in Classical Civilisation in 2011, and has recently completed a Ph.D. in which he analyzed eighteenth-century attitudes towards the ancient Roman world. In addition to his work for Context Travel, Alan also writes catalog essays on Contemporary Art for a leading auctioneer. Elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland in 2017, his first book, entitled 'Classical Caledonia', was published by Edinburgh University Press in August 2020.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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