Things I Stole From Castles

Earthen floor at Drum Castle

That’s the earthen floor of the medieval great hall at Drum Castle.

I love it.

So I took it!

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Gnarly Roots and Carbolic Soap at Aden Country Park

Gnarly tree at Aden Country Park

Aden Country Park in Aberdeenshire is a wonderful place to visit, though I have to admit that when I lived near it I took it a bit for granted. In fact I became a little disenchanted by some aspects of the place.

But it’s beautiful. From the ruined mansion house…

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A Map of Witches and some Autumn Beauty

Map of Witches

The Map of Witches is a brand new resource from the University of Edinburgh, utilising the extensive data collected in their Survey of Scottish Witchcraft Database. See it here. It’s a visual and clickable map of over 3000 people accused of witchcraft in Scotland, and is both fascinating and terrible, as this subject always is. My three quines from THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR are included (see Isobell’s entry above) as are a disturbing Witch Pricker’s Journey and various other stories. You can choose to view a modern map or a historical one, the latter suiting it better, I think.

After peering back into the dark like that, I need to look at beauty, so here’s some from recent days:

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Turn Left for Tyrebagger Stone Circle

Tyrebagger Recumbent Stone Circle is near Aberdeen, situated on the hill behind the airport and overlooking the Kirkhill Industrial Estate. So, when my family and I went seeking this circle we thought it would be easy to find. Yes. Well. Google maps took us close. Very close in fact. But there’s nowhere to stop a car and get out on the dual carriageway, so no possibility of taking the app’s advice to ‘walk the rest of the way to your destination’.

We turned to directions found on the internet which took us up the side of the industrial estate and into the woods. But the last instruction, to turn right along the line of trees… there was no right there. We ended up lost and peering over gates and up tracks and across fields. But then, Google maps pinpointed the exact location of the stones and we retraced our steps.

‘”It’s somewhere in that direction…”

“Just the other side of those trees…”

“But how can we get through there?”

Until:

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Staring Out to Sea from Dunnottar Castle

Dunnottar Castle on the cliffs

Dunnottar Castle sits high on the cliffs near Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire. It’s scenic and sprawling and, though peaceful now, it boasts a turbulent history.

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Easter Aquorthies Recumbent Stone Circle

Purple flowers at Easter Aquorthies

Easter Aquorthies, also known as East Aquorthies, is sometimes described as a ‘show circle’ and recommended as a good first circle to visit. This is due to its near perfect condition and position: all stones are present and upright; the grass always seem to have been manicured to a close shave, and the views of the surrounding countryside are magnificent. It’s also very clearly signposted from the nearby town of Inverurie, making it easy to find and then park in its small car park.

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Loch Morlich, big blog, little blog

Ducks by Loch Morlich

The tiny blog is this one, sent from holiday. The big blog is my guest post on the official tourism site for Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire: 10 Mystical and Magical Places in Aberdeenshire.

And Loch Morlich is in the pictures. I was there before the ducks were up today!

The Cairngorms beyond Loch Morlich

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A Tentative Tiptoe Round Duffus Castle

Duffus Castle looms, majestic and huge against the skyline as you approach. It’s imposing and impressive… dramatic too…

Duffus Castle silhouetted against the sun

On the day I visited – Easter Sunday – it was busy, really busy, and the air contained a mysterious hint of sulphur. This medieval fortress of the Moray family, one of Scotland’s most beautiful motte and bailey castles, had become a giant playground for the seasonal pastime of ‘egg rolling’.

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Love, Dance, Obsession, and Chocolate

An aesthetic for TENDU, a novel by Ailish Sinclair

2019 continues to be an exciting year for me on the bookish front! My contemporary novel, TENDU, is coming out in 2020 with Black Opal Books.

Some aspects of the story:

  • It’s a tale of unconventional love, dance and obsession.
  • Much of the book is set in Scotland.
  • There’s a stone circle and a castle.
  • The central relationship is deeply tempestuous.
  • Ballet!
  • Dark and terrible happenings!
  • Hot chocolate and cake. Depending on era, you can’t always include chocolate in historical writing and, given all that I put them through, my characters both need and deserve it. So there’s lots of chocolate in this contemporary title. LOTS.

And there’ll obviously have to be lots at my desk too 🙂

The desk of Scottish author Ailish Sinclair

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Walking the Witchy Ways of Aberdeen

Galllus Quines. Wonderful street art in Aberdeen honouring those persecuted for witchcraft.
Gallus Quines

I ran through St Nicholas Kirkyard, and down and round Correction Wynd, an old medieval lane in Aberdeen, to see this recent street art. I was due to meet people for breakfast, but determined to see the ‘Quine Shrine’ first. The reason being? That first part, on the left, honours those who were persecuted for witchcraft in Aberdeen, and one tile names a few of them, including the three women I chose to write about in The Mermaid and the Bear.

Tile naming some of those accused of being witches in Aberdeen, Scotland

The spellings are different, because spellings weren’t set back then, not like they are today. I chose to go with the way the names are recorded in the Survey Of Scottish Witchcraft from Edinburgh University. It was there that I learned, contrary to popular belief, that only a tiny proportion of those accused were midwives or folk healers; a mere 9 of the 3837 ‘witches’ in Scotland were midwives, and only 141 had some mention of healing in their cases (see the background page of the database).

In my fictional account of these women’s lives, one of them is a midwife and healer, but this is not the reason for the accusations brought against the three quines.

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