Scottish Historical Fiction from Aberdeenshire

Scottish Historical Fiction

I write Scottish historical fiction, often set in the area of Scotland where I live, Aberdeenshire. I also take a LOT of photos, as is evidenced throughout the blog.

Keep up with all my news by signing up to the mailing list. It’s occasional and always contains some exclusive photos.

The Mermaid and the Bear

The Mermaid and the Bear cover

My debut novel was published by GWL Publishing in October 2019, and is available in paperback and on Kindle.

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Waterstones

Aspects of the book:

  • It’s mainly set in a fictional castle in Aberdeenshire.
  • It incorporates the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic.
  • There’s a stone circle.
  • There’s 6 chapters of medieval Christmas.
  • And there’s a love story.

Review on Terry Tyler Book Reviews

See The Mermaid and the Bear page for full details including blurb and quotes and links to more reviews.

Fireflies and Chocolate

Fireflies and Chocolate, out April 2021

My second novel, also published by GWL Publishing, was released on April 1st 2021 and is available in paperback and on Kindle.

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Waterstones

Aspects of the book:

  • Set in both Aberdeenshire and Colonial Pennsylvania.
  • It includes the Aberdeen child kidnappings of the 1740s.
  • There’s derring-dos on the high seas.
  • There’s chocolate!
  • And there’s love.

Review from the Historical Novel Society

See the Fireflies and Chocolate page for full details including blurb and quotes and links to more reviews.

Further insight into my writing and research:

Scottish Historical Fiction by Ailish Sinclair

A Lighthouse in a Castle and a Love Story

old lighthouse, new lighthouse: lighthouse in a castle

The Lighthouse in a Castle

Yes, Fraserburgh boasts its very own lighthouse in a castle! The 16th century Kinnaird Castle, on the left, was converted into a lighthouse in 1787 and is now part of the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses. On the right is the modern automated lighthouse.

Before we go in, let’s walk on a bit to the wine tower, the oldest building in Fraserburgh. The photo may not be the best of the tower, but look at that sky!

wine tower and sky

The Love Story

The wine tower is thought to have been a secret post-reformation Catholic Chapel, and has a sad love story attached to it. Strain your eyes and you can just see the red paint on the ground there in the picture above.

love story piper laird's daughter

I visited the tower again on Doors Open Day and went inside. Go here to read about it and see the interior.

I love the uneven bricks and studded door of the solid little building.

wine tower beside the lighthouse in a castle

Back up the hill to castle walls…

Castle walls. Lighthouse in a catle.

And lots of stairs…

spiral staircase inside the lighthouse in a castle

And, ooh look! My Granny had a television just like the one in the lighthouse keeper’s quarters. I do like to see books being put to good use too.

television from the 70s in a lighthouse in a castle

Out onto the wider deck:

lighthouse in a castle

It’s scary on the top balcony; I can’t keep the skyline straight.

lighthouse in a castle

Into the main museum we go to examine some steampunk style things.

14300955380_d80a282c48_z
lenses

The Beach

Let’s end this trip and post with a walk on the golden sands of Fraserburgh beach, as the colour blue tantalises from above.

beach, it's the sky, of course it's the sky!

The Mermaid and the Bear

“Once Upon a Time, in the Days of Auld Lang Syne…”

The Mermaid and the Bear by Ailish Sinclair

THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR is a Scottish tale that includes a castle, a handsome Laird, witchcraft accusations, a stone circle and lots of love…

Paperback and Kindle:

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Waterstones

Keep up with all my news by signing up to the mailing list. It’s occasional and personal and always contains some exclusive photos.

ballet feet of Ailish Sinclair

Proofreading, a Tree and Fox Tracks

proofreading, tree and fox tracks

Just a small post, and a short wintry walk, written amid the nerve wracking experience of proofreading (originally from February 2021).

It’s been snowing.

Quite a lot.

Above are fox tracks in the woods. Below, an oak leaf.

oak leaf in the snow: proofreading

Scary Proofreading

I’ve been proofreading Fireflies and Chocolate (out now: Amazon), desperately seeking any errors, making tiny tweaks.

Last chance to change anything. Last chance to get it right before it goes back to the publisher. It’s a little bit scary, this final stage of writing a novel.

In the woods

So, I trudge. Through the snow. Through the trees.

I breathe in the fresh cold air. It feels good.

Calming. Natural. Real.

Emerging from the woods, I hold my face up to the sun, follow the fox tracks and hope all will be well.

sunshine through the trees

The Mermaid and the Bear

“Once Upon a Time, in the Days of Auld Lang Syne…”

The Mermaid and the Bear by Ailish Sinclair in the snow by deer tracks

THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR is a Scottish tale that includes a castle, a handsome Laird, witchcraft accusations, a stone circle and lots of love…

Paperback and Kindle:

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Waterstones

Keep up with all my news by signing up to the mailing list. It’s occasional and personal and always contains some exclusive photos.

snowy woods

Sea King over Glen Affric in the Highlands

search and rescue sea king helicopter
Track leading into the Glen Affric in the Highlands of Scotland
Here we go, into Glen Affric…

A pictorial post about beautiful Glen Affric in the Scottish Highlands.

Page on it here

Loch Beinn a' Mheadhain
Loch Beinn a’ Mheadhain
The Dog Falls at Glen Affric
Beside the Dog Falls…
Loch Beinn a' Mheadhain
Loch Beinn a’ Mheadhain from another vantage point.
heather at Glen Affric
Heather.
Loch Affric
Loch Affric.
search and rescue sea king helicopter at Glen Affric
Search and rescue Sea King helicopter over Glen Affric.

Keep up with all my news by signing up to the mailing list. It’s occasional and always contains some exclusive photos.

Book!

Set in a fictional castle in Aberdeenshire, Ailish Sinclair’s debut novel, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, blends an often overlooked period of history, the Scottish witchcraft accusations, in particular the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, with a love story.

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Waterstones

Stone Circles, Henges, Hills and a Barrow

Aikey Brae, one of my favourite stone circles

It’s no secret that I love stone circles and other old stony places. I visit them. A lot. I hug them. Quite a bit. And I write about them. Aikey Brae, above, is my absolute favourite. The circle in my books is loosely based on this one. I’ve blogged about it here in the snow and here after the trees were felled.

Today I’m sharing some older photos of ancient sites that I’ve not used before, so they may not be too perfect, but I hope they capture the spirit of these special places.

First, I’m going back in time, deep into the family photo archives, and journeying out of Scotland to Wiltshire in England.

Avebury

Avebury stone circle

The great henge of Avebury, a circle with a village built right in the middle of it, is another of my favourites.

Peeking round a stone at Avebury
Avebury

West Kennet and Silbury

Nearby is West Kennet Long Barrow where I once found a candle burning (very naughty, such things could cause damage):

candle in West Kennet Long Barrow
West Kennet

Across the road from the barrow is the mysterious Silbury Hill.

Aberdeenshire Stone Circles

We have a nice wee henge in Aberdeenshire too at Broomend of Crichie, and the shape of the stones really remind me of Avebury. As does the fact that there was once an avenue of stones leading to the circle.

Broomend of Crichie stone circle

And just down the river, in the old graveyard, is the Bass of Inverurie.

The Bass of Inverurie

The Bass is a natural hill that has been shaped. It’s been home to a Motte and Bailey castle and there have been older worked flint objects found there too.

Did someone create a diminutive complex similar to that of Avebury? I wonder…

Some lovely Pictish stones stand beside the Bass today, un-huggable in their new glass case.

Pictish stones by the Bass of Inverurie

The countryside of the Inverurie area is rich in standing stones and circles too. Easter Aquorthies lies a couple of miles away from the Bass. I’ve blogged about it here.

Easter Aquorthies Stone Circle

And, not too far away, is Loanhead of Daviot Recumbent Stone Circle, one that I’m writing about just now as it plays a part in the story of SISTERS.

At Daviot:

Ailish at Loanhead of Daviot Recumbent Stone Circle

Wonderful Blogs

The Wee Writing Lassie asked me 7 intrusive questions! Go to her blog to see them.

Sally Cronin reviewed FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE on her wonderful Smorgasbord Blog Magazine: “This book is well researched, bringing history to life and the writing flows smoothly like hot chocolate as it warms on a cold day. It is a coming of age and love story which will have you holding your breath on occasion as Elizabeth comes to terms with her future.See the whole review here.

Tyrebagger stone circle
Tyrebagger Circle near Aberdeen

I hope you’ve enjoyed my wee journey into the ancient past. Sign up to my mailing list if you would like more of this ilk in your inbox.

Books (stone circle included!)

Set in a castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR features the Scottish witchcraft accusations and a love story.

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the 18th century kidnapped children of Aberdeen and is set in both Scotland and Colonial Pennsylvania.

Paperbacks and kindle: Amazon UK or Amazon Worldwide

“Filled with excitement and suspense…” Historical Novel Society Editor’s Pick

Castle Fraser Circle
Path through crop to Castle Fraser stone circle

About Page 

Broadsea: let’s go for a coastal stroll!

Broadsea near Fraserburgh

Broadsea is the older part of Fraserburgh in Aberdeenshire. It was once the site of a Pictish settlement and later a fishing community. It still feels distinctly different from the surrounding town, more like a small village, and is a great place for a walk!

Our Broadsea Stroll

From Fraserburgh, we’re heading down Broadsea Road, past all the wee hoosies, right to the end.

a wee hoosie in Broadsea

From there we’re going left to see the craggy rocks and some paintings. There’s a Lion Rampant on the other side of that outcrop but it’s taken a bit of a bashing from the sea and is rather faded.

sea at Broadsea in Aberdeenshire

Let’s retrace our steps and continue on round the corner. We’re heading towards the cove of Broadsea, the lighthouse at Kinnaird Head just coming into view.

view from Broadsea or Faithlee

Tiptoeing between houses and walking the curving path, we pass many old cottages. The new housing development we come to next holds on to hints of the past in the form of various buoys placed along the verge.

buoy at Broadsea

On we go. Up to lighthouses, old and new. There’s a great museum and tearoom here if you need a break. Older post with more on the museum and lighthouse here.

lighthouse

A little further along from the lighthouse is The Wine Tower, said to be Fraserburgh’s oldest building. Post on it here.

wine tower of Fraserburgh

We can finish there if you like, but I prefer to walk all the way back so as to see Broadsea from the other direction.

So, one last look at The Wine Tower… perhaps a quick run up and down the steps and a peer in the window…

wine tower

And we return to the wee hoosies.

cottage at Broadsea

And Broadsea Road.

Broadsea house

The best time of day for a Broadsea stroll definitely seems to be in the morning. Clash with school let out time and you may have sticks and stones brandished at you! For a fascinating read on the 19th century history of the place, I highly recommend The Christian Watt Papers.

The Books

the novels of Ailish Sinclair

Set in an Aberdeenshire castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR features the Scottish witchcraft accusations and a love story.

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE, inspired by the 18th century kidnapped children of Aberdeen, is set in both Scotland and Colonial Pennsylvania.

Paperbacks and kindle: Amazon UK or Amazon Worldwide

“Filled with excitement and suspense…” Historical Novel Society

ballet feet of Ailish Sinclair
My feet…

See my about page here

sunset sky during lockdown
trees and moon

Sign up to the mailing list for exclusive photos and news of my writing and life here.

Writer’s Tip Jar

Rosehearty Harbour: tiny blog, tiny outing…

Rosehearty Harbour in Aberdeenshire

Rosehearty harbour, pretty with pink thrift growing in the foreground.

So, I’m out.

In the car.

Whizzing through the countryside.

Seeing things that are not my garden, not my house: ripening crops, winding roads, people, tractors, dogs…

I’ve moved on from the small blue ball I was before. In my excitement to be out, I overestimate the level of moving on that has occurred. Going into a shop turns out to be a mistake that leads to pain and shaking and a slow hobbling retreat.

But sitting by Rosehearty harbour, on a bench, in the sun, is perfect.

It’s progress, and it’s good.

Rosehearty Harbour

Read more about the harbour at Rosehearty, one of the oldest seaports in Scotland, here.

My books:

Books by Ailish Sinclair

Set in an Aberdeenshire castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR features the Scottish witchcraft accusations, a handsome Laird, an ancient stone circle and a love story.

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the 18th century kidnapped children of Aberdeen and is set in both Scotland and Colonial Pennsylvania.

Paperbacks and kindle: Amazon UK or Amazon Worldwide

“Filled with excitement and suspense…” Historical Novel Society

And coming soon…

SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD cover

Set in 2nd century Northern Scotland, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD is a tale of chosen sisters, fierce warriors, divided loyalties and, ultimately, love. More…

See my About Page here

Writer’s Tip Jar:

Finding Loudon Wood Stone Circle

Loudon Wood Stone Circle

Loudon Wood Stone Circle is so deep in the woods that it is almost impossible to find. There are many little paths that look like they might lead into it from the main track, but the one that actually does? Virtually hidden. I succeeded in finding it again in 2020. And it was wonderful.

One stone from the circle in Loudon Wood

Within the circle glade, it was peaceful. It was warm. It was calm.

sunshine over Loudon Wood Stone Circle

There was a brief rain shower while I was there, and even that felt gentle and soft, in direct contrast to the horizontal in-the-face precipitation we often get here.

Loudon Wood Stone Circle

I didn’t want to leave. Surrounded by dense trees, the circle felt separate from the somewhat crazed world outside. It made me think of the person who commented on a recent Instagram post, saying that the image freed them from ‘all the bullshit’ for a moment. This was that picture:

ox-eye daisy

Loudon Wood Stone Circle is like that too. Free of things that can maybe be symbolised by this beer made by a local brewery:

Brewdog's Barnard Castle beer

The stones are old. True. Dignified and simple.

Recumbent stone in Loudon Wood

And the pathway out? Easy to find.

pathway through the woods

You can read an interview I did recently on The Trainee Journalist blog: Novels by North-east author tell unheard stories from the past.

And there’s a nice review of THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR over on Goodreads here. “The ending is gorgeous and deeply moving. I had a hard time putting the book down. Highly recommended for readers of historical fiction, love stories, tragedies, and the resilience of love, kindness, and faith.”

The Mermaid and the Bear

Set in a fictional castle in Aberdeenshire, Ailish Sinclair’s debut novel, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, features an often overlooked event in history, the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, and a love story.

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Waterstones

Scottish author Ailish Sinclair at Berrybrae Stone Circle
At Berrybrae…

Explore more stone circles with me by signing up to the mailing list.

See the About Page here.

Castle Windows, Castle Doors: Drum in Aberdeenshire

castle windows at Drum

Beautiful castle windows and doors at Drum.

From small, dark hidey-holes…

little castle windows

To windows and doors that reveal exactly where you are.

pink castle windows

The door of the chapel:

chapel door at Drum Castle

On this day there was torture in the dungeon.

a Scold's Bridle

A knight in the medieval great hall:

armour

A walk on the roof:

castle rooftop

Soup by the old fireplace in the kitchen…

range

And unrelenting rain.

All the castle windows and doors at Drum Castle

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Ailish Sinclair stares out to sea

Above: at Dunnottar. Post here.

My Castle-y Debut Novel

Once Upon a Time, in the Days of Auld Lang Syne…”

A Scottish tale that includes a handsome Laird, witchcraft accusations, a stone circle and lots of love.

The Mermaid and the Bear cover

THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR features:

  • a 16th century Scottish castle
  • 6 chapters of medieval Christmas
  • the Aberdeen witchcraft panic of 1597
  • an ancient circle of standing stones, based on Aikey Brae
  • and a love story.

Come taste the Twelfth Night Cake and dance the fast lifting dance, La Volta!

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Waterstones

Festive quote from THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR by Ailish Sinclair

About page

Writer’s tip jar:

Waters of Philorth, an Aberdeenshire nature reserve

Philorth River, Waters of Philorth

The Waters of Philorth is a small nature reserve near Fraserburgh in Aberdeenshire.

History

The sheltered terrain of the reserve was created by the dunes, which in turn were inadvertently created by man during WW2. Large coils of barbed wire and concrete blocks were laid along the coastline to deter enemy invaders. Over time sand built up on them, plants grew, and the River Philorth changed course.

waters of philorth

Wildlife of the Waters of Philorth

Wildlife flourishes at Philorth today. There’s a rather nice PDF about it on the council website here.

Let’s walk along beside the river. There’s a gull fishing.

A gull fishing at the waters of philorth

I love the tall grasses.

philorth reeds

The scenery grows more and more beach-like as we progress along the riverside path.

philorth sands
washed up fishing net at the waters of philorth
washed up fishing net
limpet
limpet

Beach

We finally reach the sea, and the town of Fraserburgh is visible in the distance.

Fraserburgh and the sea

We return by the higher dune path through the Waters of Philorth as dark clouds gather above us.

dune path through the waters of philorth

And a Castle!

Exiting onto the main road, leaving just in time to miss the sudden and heavy rainfall, we get a brief glimpse of Cairnbulg Castle through the trees. Read about it on the website of Lady Saltoun, Chief of the name and arms of Fraser.

Cairnbulg Castle

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Book Giveaway

Ailish's book giveaway (till June 26th 2022)

I’m doing a wee book giveaway on Instagram this week. It runs all week (till June 26th 2022) with one of each book up for grabs and it’s a worldwide competition. See it here.

The Books

Set in an Aberdeenshire castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR features the Scottish witchcraft accusations and a love story.

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE, inspired by the 18th century kidnapped children of Aberdeen, is set in both Scotland and Colonial Pennsylvania.

Paperbacks and kindle: Amazon UK or Amazon Worldwide

“Filled with excitement and suspense…” Historical Novel Society

ballet feet of Ailish Sinclair
My feet…

See my about page here

Chasing a Cover Reveal Along Snowy Pathways

snowy path to a cover reveal

The cover reveal for FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE!

Other reveals can be seen here for THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, and more recently, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD.


Last time I had a cover to reveal we journeyed down a rabbit hole to find it… but I haven’t been anywhere exciting like that lately, so we’ll have to stick closer to home, starting on the snowy track into the woods.

Reaching the end of the track, we nip up this narrow path:

narrow path to a cover reveal

Here we are on the loch-side walk now, sunshine to our left.

sunny path in the woods

Wait! What’s that? Something’s moving in the woods, running and leaping through the trees…

The Mermaid and the Bear by Ailish Sinclair in the snow by deer tracks

No, that’s not it. That’s the first book (out now!) and some foot prints left by a deer. We need to retrace our steps, I think…

Snowy track to a cover reveal

And yes – finally we come to it – the cover reveal for FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE, out April 1st 2021!

Fireflies and Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair, out 2021

The cup featured on the cover is an actual chocolate cup from the 1740s when the book is set.

Inspired by the 600 children and young people who were kidnapped from Aberdeen and sold into indentured servitude in the American Colonies, the story follows the adventures of Elizabeth Manteith and her determined efforts to get back home. There’s love. There’s proper derring-dos on the high seas (as opposed to my previous metaphorical ones)! And there’s chocolate…

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Waterstones

Keep up with all my news by signing up to the mailing list. It’s occasional and always contains some exclusive photos.