A Map of Witches and some Autumn Beauty

Map of Witches

Map of Witches

The Map of Witches is a 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.

Autumn Beauty

After peering back into the dark like that, I need to look at beauty, so here’s some golden blue autumnal goodness:

Blue and gold after the map of witches

The wonderful gold of the harvest.

rockpool

Pink shimmering rockpools at New Aberdour beach.

New Aberdour Beach and a map of witches

A dark cave, blue reflected within.

a dark cave and a map of witches

And the path up to St Drostan’s well, shining in the sunlight:

St Drostan's well and a map of witches

Newsletter

Keep up to date with all my news, witchy and otherwise, by signing up to the mailing list. It’s a more intimate space than the blog and always contains some exclusive photos.

My Books

Sisters at the Edge of the World cover

Set in 1st century Scotland, my latest novel, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, includes the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes. The book features a neurodiverse main character and some rather complicated romance!

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Read the article Roman Aberdeenshire features in author’s new book from Grampian Online.

Cover of Ailish Sinclair's 'The Mermaid and the Bear'

Taking place mainly in a fictional castle, 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.

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

From the Press and Journal: New book by Fraserburgh author highlights horrific extent of witch trials in Scotland 

Fireflies and Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair, out 2021

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the kidnapped children and young people of Aberdeen. The story follows the adventures of Elizabeth Manteith from the castle and her determined efforts to get back home. There’s love. There’s derring-dos on the high seas… And there’s chocolate!

See the publisher’s Press Release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Review from the Historical Novel Society

Writer’s Tip Jar

Stormy Skies over St Combs Beach

St Combs Beach

Wandering barefoot. Along the sand. At St Combs Beach.

sand worm castings

Tiptoeing between the sandworm castings.

St Combs Beach

Feeling the smoothness and solidity of the rocks.

shells at St Combs Beach

Bending down to look at some wee sea snails.

seaweed at St Combs Beach

Leaping over the seaweed.

sand storm

A sand storm blows up on the way back.

rocks in the sea

But the skies stay dramatic.

For more beaches and skies, sign up to my mailing list here

Sisters at the Edge of the World is out now!

SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD with a misty mountain view

Set in 1st century Scotland, my latest novel, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, includes the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes. The book features a neurodiverse main character and some rather complicated romance!

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

See the article Roman Aberdeenshire features in author’s new book from Grampian Online.

The Mermaid and the Bear

There’s a great review of The Mermaid and the Bear over on The Inquisitive Inkpot: “This is where I connected with Isobell: I connected with her when the fragility of her world suddenly mirrored the fragility of mine. So to speak, I met her in the details.”

And another here on Instagram: “The author has written such a triumphant tale of love, bravery, and true magic for these women and all women.”

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

Waterstones

North East Scotland Beaches: Vikings and Mermaids!

sea at Fraserburgh beach - Going Coastal: North East Scotland Beaches

Sky. Sea. Sand. It’s been a summer of these. Even on dull days it’s been warm, and walks on the beach, beautiful. I’m donning the tour guide hat again, and we’re going to explore some North East Scotland beaches, cliffs and caves.

Adapted from a 2016 post.

Whitehills

rainbow over the coast: North East Scotland Beaches

Two generations of quines walked the coast route between Banff and Whitehills back in February. We got rained on, but we got a rainbow. And amazing colours of sky and sea. Below is the Red Well. More on that here as it features in SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD (out now!).

The Red Well, Whitehills

North East Scotland Beaches: Gardenstown and Vikings!

No time to linger at the well today, as we’re skipping along into summer to Gardenstown and St John’s Kirk. There it is, up on the hill between cloud shadows.

St John's Kirk, Gardenstown

There is an exciting tale of local ladies winning a battle with the Vikings in 1004 by weaponising their stockings with rocks and sand. Three Viking skulls were subsequently built into the walls of the then under-construction Kirk.

The coast as seen from the walls of St John's Kirk, Gamrie - Going Coastal with Ailish Sinclair North East Scotland Beaches

Today it’s a peaceful place, though the landscape is probably much the same as it was during the era of battling lassies and Viking warriors.

landscape at Gamrie

New Aberdour

Time for a picnic, and an exploration of the various bays at New Aberdour.

New Aberdour: North East Scotland Beaches

Let’s lie on the ground and gaze up at the red rocks and blue sky above.

rocks and sky: North East Scotland Beaches

We watch, entranced, as sand martins dart in and out of their nests. Whoops, forget to cover the home made pizza so it’s now covered in sand.  Never mind, just time for a poke around in a rock pool before we go…

rock pool: North East Scotland Beaches

Fraserburgh

Okay. Shoes off. We’re going to race along the golden shore at Fraserburgh, getting the sand right up between our toes. If we’re feeling energetic we can climb Tiger Hill, that large dune to the right, and enjoy enhanced views of the beach and town.

reflective clouds at the coast: North East Scotland Beaches

A reflective moment.

Fraserburgh beach - reflections at the coast

St Combs

Calming right down now. We turn the corner. Out comes a book and a bar of chocolate as we sit on the rocks at St Combs.

St Combs beach: North East Scotland Beaches

Walking boots on for this next part…

rocky

The Bullers of Buchan: Mermaids!

On we go, past Peterhead, to seek out mermaids at the Bullers of Buchan. There are folk tales of them being spotted here in the cave known as the Sea Cauldron:

the sea cauldron - Going Coastal and looking for mermaids!

It’s actually quite a dangerous place, with cliff edges all round, so do take care.

The coast at the Bullers of Buchan

We’ve come to the end of our coastal oddessy. Just one more stare at that silvery sea at the Bullers, and then it’s home for a cup of tea.

The coast at the Bullers of Buchan - Ailish Sinclair, author: North East Scotland Beaches

My Books

books on pink

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 very soon now…

The latest book, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, is out now!

Sisters at the Edge of the World

ballet novel, TENDU, by Ailish Sinclair

See my About Page here

Newsletter

Go here to sign up for my (roughly monthly) newsletter. It’s a more intimate space than the blog and always includes some exclusive photos.

Tip Jar

Cairnbulg and Inverallochy: Come Awa In!

Cairnbulg: come awa in!
Come away in!

I took a wee trip to Cairnbulg. And also Inverallochy, as the two fishing villages are joined together. I drove myself, a major milestone in the healing process (see posts about illness here and here).

Cairnbulg Library

The library had some lovely signs up, written in the Doric, the Scots language as spoken in the northeast of Scotland. They were fairly simple, but I will translate under the pictures.

Cairnbulg library in Aberdeenshire, Scotland
The Counter

My favourite was the one that separated the adult books from the junior section.

Cairnbulg library
Big folks books

There’s a vaguely Pictish feel to the statue outside the library.

Statue outside Cairnbulg Library.
Statue outside Cairnbulg Library

The Beach

After perusing the books and signs, I drove down to the beach.

Cairnbulg: washing lines
Communal washing line

I had forgotten how beautiful the rugged and rocky nature of the coast at the bottom of the village was.

beach
Beach

I just had to walk down onto the beach. Another ‘blue mind‘ moment!

Rocks at Cairnbulg
Rocks at Cairnbulg beach

Memorial

The memorial below commemorates all those who have been lost at sea from the community.

Memorial at Cairnbulg

Haste Ye Back!

And lastly, probably needing no translation, but I will anyway, Haste Ye Back! To the blog as well as the library…

Haste You Back: return soon!

For more Doric sayings see the post Dancing Round Aberdeen in the Rain

My books, also available at the library!

books on pink

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

Fireflies and Chocolate at the library!
Picture taken at Fraserburgh Library, books on the just returned shelf.

And coming soon…

SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD cover

Set in 1st century Northern Scotland, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD is a tale of chosen sisters, fierce warriors, neurodiversity, divided loyalties and, ultimately, love. More…

ballet novel, TENDU, by Ailish Sinclair

See my About Page here

Writer’s Tip Jar:

Balgorkar Stone Circle and Castle Fraser

Balgorkar Stone Circle
On the way to Balgorkar Stone Circle

This post details a day in 2014 when we set off to find Balgorkar Stone Circle and visited two castles and another circle too.

We headed off to look for the stones. But first, there was a quick stop at Fraserburgh beach where the haar (Scottish word for mist that rolls in off the sea) hung low and filtered the sunlight in a silvery way. A seagull flew by as I took the photo.

Balgorkar Stone Circle

Inland we travelled, to bright sunshine and summer colours and the stones of Castle Fraser.

To the left in the picture below (click to see larger image) are two standing stones and to the right, in the distance by the trees, is Balgorkar Stone Circle (also known as Castle Fraser Stone Circle). The stones were visible from the road, so quite easily found.

standing stones and a Balgorkar stone circle

Up the side of the field we walked.

Balgorkar Stone Circle in Aberdeenshire

I thought we’d have to just view the stones from there, but no, some naughty person had trampled a pathway through the crop, so we did no further damage by walking it.

illicit path to Balgorkar stone circle

The recumbent and flankers, dark against the field:

Balgorkar stone circle

Castle Fraser

Next we visited Castle Fraser, where I was meant to be doing research for writing on heraldry, historic dates and architecture. This took the form of running about taking photos:

Castle Fraser

I loved the rooftop and later wrote about it here.

turrets

Kildrummy Castle

Then, after picnicking, with only half the day gone, we decided to head to ruinous Kildrummy Castle, a few miles further on.

more serendipity at Kildrummy Castle - Ailish Sinclair, author

There in the reception was an old friend who I hadn’t seen for years. There was hugging and much talking. Other people got fed up waiting to be served… We kept saying it was amazing. My friend is currently doing a PhD in history, so some of our conversation became spontaneous research.

We finally moved on to look around:

great hall

I do appreciate the use of the adverb ‘treacherously’ there; without it we might think Osbourne the Blacksmith to have merely made a mistake or had an unfortunate accident such as tripping with a pot of molten metal or dropping a freshly forged sword.

window

Broomend of Crichie Stone Circle

The day ended with a visit to Broomend of Crichie stone circle, Pictish stone placed in the middle.

Broomend of Crichie

This blog post is ending in a rather unrelated way, with some ballet. It’s beautiful and romantic and only two minutes long. It’s Scottish Ballet performing at the opening of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014.

Historical Fiction featuring a castle and a stone circle!

Fireflies and Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair
Fireflies and Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair, out 2021

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

There’s love. There’s derring-dos on the high seas… And there’s chocolate!

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Waterstones

“Filled with excitement and suspense…” Historical Novel Society

ailish's feet

My About Page

Writer’s Begging Tip Jar

Fraserburgh Beach: a good place for #bluemind

Fraserburgh Beach

Fraserburgh beach in Aberdeenshire is sandy and golden and beautiful. It’s usually pretty deserted, especially early in the morning, and I love it.

I’m still very taken with the concept of blue mind (see last post on it here) and have decided to take every opportunity to experience it.

So, here I am.

Fraserburgh beach

Beside the ocean.

The tide is in today, so I only have to take a few steps to be right by the water. Sometimes the North Sea is far far away in Fraserburgh bay.

But this gentle morning, I just sit on a pink granite block and breathe it all in. The sun. The lapping waves. And the blue… the glorious blue.

Fraserburgh beach

Fraserburgh beach also features in these posts:

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 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

“Ailish Sinclair spins this Scottish tale filled with excitement and suspense…” Historical Novel Society

peering through the grasses to the sea

Go here to sign up for my occasional emails that always include some exclusive photos and news of my writing and life.

See my About Page

Blue Mind and Bare Feet on Pink Rocks

Blue MInd at New Aberdour Beach in Aberdeenshire

The term ‘blue mind’ describes the mild meditative state that we enter when in or close to natural bodies of water. It was coined by marine biologist Dr. Wallace J. Nichols. He wrote a book on the subject and did a Ted Talk too:

So ‘blue mind’ in mind, and encouraged by my wee trip to Rosehearty Harbour last week, I ventured out again. Travelling slightly further this time, I arrived at New Aberdour beach where everything was blue, blue, blue…

blue mind over the rockpools

Blue Mind to Pink Rocks

Feet bare, I sat on the pink rocks and stared out to sea.

blue mind, bare feet and pink rocks

I saw stones and pools and pink, lots of pink everywhere.

I used the transition from blue to pink in this post to symbolise levels of pain.

stones in a rock pool crevice

But in this context, the blue of ‘blue mind’ was not pain. It was perfect.

So I stared out over the rock pools.

And breathed in the blue of the sea.

blue mind and rockpools

And, hopefully, now, healing comes…

A coastal quote from SISTERS, my work in progress

I am just looking at the soft shapes of land, and the hard shapes of rock, as they drop away into the sea. No in-between places up on top here. No beach, no marsh. Here the space between life and death is painted clear. You could be walking on grass one moment and dead on the rocks the next. This is a place of instant transition from one state to another.

The Published Books on the pink bench…

books on pink

Set in an Aberdeenshire 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

Newsletters

Sign up to my mailing list for exclusive photos and personal insights into my writing and life.

blue mind

There’s more Blue Mind photos in the older post Going Coastal

Writer’s Tip Jar

Tarlair Art Deco Open Air Swimming Pool

Tarlair outdoor swimming pool

Tarlair now

I recently explored Tarlair open air swimming pool with my husband and children. Despite having fallen into serious disrepair over the years, it retains a certain beauty, and is evocative – for me anyway – of times past.

Tarlair in memory

It was the scene of many halcyon days one summer. I was fifteen, and due to head off to dance school in London that September. I recall lying on the grass in the sun, messing around in the boating pool, buying sweets from the shop and chatting with friends. The hazy, golden hue of these bright points in memory is augmented by the nature of other events from that time.

There was a face off with the girl who used to beat me up in primary school. There was an abusive incident with an older family member. He was much respected, and I didn’t feel able to tell anyone. An older boy grabbed me on a bus and kissed and bit my neck. Actually that’s not a dark memory. Non-consensual and unexpected as it was, I found it rather exciting at the time.

There were other daily disappointments, but it can be bitter to dwell too deeply. Some things are over when they’re finally over, and they are now.

Tarlair as seen from the cliffs above today

Nostalgia

But Tarlair remains bright, both as it is now, and as it appears in my nostalgic image of the past. Four girls on the brink of being women laughed together and talked of their hopes for the future. We swam in the water of the North Sea with all our clothes on, and got changed in the only one of our homes that was free from adult disapproval. We ate chocolate in an abandoned campervan. White Russians were enjoyed in a local nightclub where no one questioned our age; hangovers were revelled in the next day by the pool.

None of our lives turned out quite how we envisaged. We trailed away from those teenage maps we drew for ourselves that summer. We’ve all tasted despair but known great joy too. Maybe we couldn’t have had one without the other.

Restoration

Tarlair is being restored. I look forward to making new memories there soon.

Friends of Tarlair Facebook Page

Restoration of iconic Tarlair Pool from the Press and Journal

Below: looking out to the wider ocean through the Needle’s Eye, a rock formation beside Tarlair.

through the Needle's Eye

My Books, set mostly in Aberdeenshire

The latest novel, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, released September 21st in both kindle and paperback. It features Romans, Celts, romance, a neurodiverse main character and the Battle of Mons Graupius. 

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

See the article Roman Aberdeenshire features in author’s new book from Grampian Online.

Sisters at the Edge of the World

More titles

books on pink

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

ballet novel, TENDU, by Ailish Sinclair

See my About Page here

Newsletter

Go here to sign up for my (roughly monthly) newsletter. It’s a more intimate space than the blog and always includes some exclusive photos.

Tip Jar

In Search of Lord Pitsligo’s Cave

craggy coast on the way to Lord Pitsligo's Cave

Lord Pitsligo

I’ve written about Lord Pitsligo before, briefly here in a post about his home, Pitsligo Castle, and then in more detail over at The Witch, The Weird and the Wonderful. He’s an intriguing character who hid around the Buchan countryside for three years following the battle of Culloden, for some of the time in a cave which is still referred to as Lord Pitsligo’s Cave.

I had to find it.

floral coastline on the way to Lord Pitsligo's Cave

Walking to Lord Pitsligo’s Cave

A friend and I set off along the coast, heading West from Rosehearty, having read several conflicting accounts of the exact location of the cave. We knew it had been blown up by the home guard in WW2 and the lower entrance made inaccessible. Perhaps the best we would be able to say was that we’d walked near it?

white quartz line on the way to Lord Pitsligo's Cave

We passed lines of white quartz and rocky plateaus and many craggy cliffs where we stopped and wondered: is this it?

rockpool on the way to Lord Pitsligo's Cave

Then: yes! We just knew we’d found the place. Seagulls flew up, angry about us being so close to their nests, but down we went into the bay.

Lord Pitsligo's Cave

It’s not too easy to discern in my shadowy pictures but there’s a pile of rubble where the lower entrance would have been and a small opening in the cliff above.

beach by Lord Pitsligo's Cave

My friend went back on a brighter day and zoomed in on the higher entrance:

Lord Pitsligo's Cave

We walked further, along to Quarry Head, the site of a 16th century shipwreck (interesting story here), and looked back across the various bays:

bluebells

It’s a stunning bit of coastline to explore; the cave is about two miles from Rosehearty. Picture below taken on another day just before a thunder storm, note the tiny white sailing boat in the centre:

stormy sky

My Books

My newest book, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, featuring another local cave at Cullykhan, releases on the 21st of September 2022. Kindle pre-order is live now.

new novel from Ailish Sinclair

All my books are available in paperback and kindle and can be seen on my Amazon Author Page

Ailish Sinclair

Newsletter

Go here to sign up for my (roughly monthly) newsletter. It’s a more intimate space than the blog and always includes some exclusive photos.

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:

Sisters at the Edge of the World cover

Set in 1st century Scotland, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD includes the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes. The book features a neurodiverse main character and some rather complicated romance!

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

Read the article Roman Aberdeenshire features in author’s new book from Grampian Online.

Cover of Ailish Sinclair's 'The Mermaid and the Bear'

Taking place mainly in a fictional castle, 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.

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

From the Press and Journal: New book by Fraserburgh author highlights horrific extent of witch trials in Scotland 

Fireflies and Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair, out 2021

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the kidnapped children and young people of Aberdeen. The story follows the adventures of Elizabeth Manteith from the castle and her determined efforts to get back home. There’s love. There’s derring-dos on the high seas… And there’s chocolate!

See the publisher’s Press Release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

“Filled with excitement and suspense…” Historical Novel Society

feet

See my About Page here

Newsletter

Go here to sign up for my occasional emails that always include exclusive photos and news of my writing and life.

Writer’s Tip Jar

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