The Lang Stane (long stone) of Aberdeen is situated close to busy and bustling Union Street. Many places in the city are named after this stone, but most people don’t know that it’s there. It’s hidden away on the corner of Langstane Place and Dee Street. The Music Hall can be seen in the background of the above photo.Continue reading “The Mysterious Lang Stane of Aberdeen”
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 probably 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.Continue reading “Stone Circles, Henges, Hills and a Barrow”
It’s still cold here in in Scotland. But it must be summer. Because look at the bluebells! Vibrant patches of purple abound in the forest. The scent is rich and heady, luxurious. It calls to mind the fairy folklore of bluebell woods, but I was not spirited off to fairyland, not this time.
It’s quite floral in the garden too; cherry blossom falls like pink snow and gathers everywhere creating a carpet of petals.
I walk the pink carpet to the pink bench…
Then I run into the bluebell woods to wait for the fairies again.
Terry Tyler has written a wonderful review of FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE: “A ghastly accident of circumstance leads to her being imprisoned on an Aberdeen slave ship, taking children and young people to the tobacco plantations of North America. A round of applause to Ms Sinclair for using fiction to highlight little-known history – I knew nothing about this.“
See the whole review here on Rosie Amber’s blog.
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.
Paperbacks and kindle: http://author.to/mermaid
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The white horse on Mormond Hill in Aberdeenshire can be seen for miles around. Constructed of white quartz, the horse is said to have been built by a Captain Fraser in the 1790s after the Flanders campaign. His own horse was shot from under him in battle and his sergeant offered his mount as replacement and was shot in the process. The white horse is a memorial to Sergeant Henderson.
I have visited the horse a few times, by car a long time ago, and also by walking. It’s quite a long walk! From the village of Strichen you head up Hospital Road and keep going. The road becomes a track which leads to fields. You cross a stile at one point. Then there’s a wee path and it all gets rather steep.
But it’s worth it. Look at the views!Continue reading “The White Horse on Mormond Hill”
I love Cullykhan Bay.
Near the village of Pennan in Aberdeenshire, it’s a place that has long been appreciated by people, so it has a rich history. To the left of the sandy and sheltered beach is an impressive promontory.Continue reading “Playing with Geography at Cullykhan Bay”
I do seem to have a habit of running up and down the medieval cobbles of Aberdeen in the name of research. Here I am again, travelling down Correction Wynd, site of the 17th century House of Correction. But it’s not the old poorhouse/jail that I’m investigating. Not today anyway…
I pass St Nicholas Kirk, where people accused of witchcraft were held in the 16th century.
It’s time to move on from that now.
On from THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR.
Researching and writing those times have led me to another.
Over the cobbles I go, glancing up at the modern city above.
Through the beam of light and into the, also rather modern seeming, Green.
The kidnapped children of Aberdeen were held here in the 1740s. In a barn.
Passers by sometimes heard music coming from the place, as the kidnappers tried to keep the children entertained.
The Green is mentioned in Fireflies and Chocolate (out today!):
“Another barn,” notes Peter, when we are ushered into a large ramshackle wooden building. Again we find a space to sit together, among the others. Again, we are on the floor, this time an earthen one. No chairs are provided for the likes of us anywhere now it seems. “I was kept in a barn in Aberdeen,” he tells me. “Down at The Green.”
I ken The Green. I used to think it was a nice place to walk through, a space between buildings, like a city version of a forest glade.
The children were also kept in the Tolbooth at times. There are tales of desperate parents trying to break down the door to get to them. Peter Williamson, who appears in the above quote, would be held there again in later life as punishment for his book, in which he accused the town magistrates of involvement in the kidnappings. You can read a large print version in the Tolbooth museum today beside a life size cut out of Peter!
He’s not the main character in Fireflies and Chocolate though. That’s Elizabeth Manteith, who is entirely fictional. But I love her. In their press release about the book the publisher describes her like this:
Fiery and forthright, Elizabeth isn’t someone to be argued with. She knows her own mind, and isn’t afraid to speak it. Through her experiences, the reader sees her grow from a girl, into a woman with a powerful voice… a woman of her time, but very much of ours too.
Those dark cobbles do take me places!
FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE, inspired by the 600 children and young people who were kidnapped from Aberdeen during the 1740s and sold into indentured servitude in the American Colonies, is out today. The story follows the adventures of Elizabeth Manteith from the castle and her determined efforts to get back home. There’s love. There’s proper derring-dos on the high seas… And there’s chocolate!
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The huge Cumberland Stone sits in woodland very close to Culloden Moor. It is said that the Duke of Cumberland (the king’s son and leader of the government troops) ate his lunch, or in some accounts his breakfast, sitting atop the stone on the day of battle in 1746. It’s also said that he watched the battle from there.Continue reading “The Cumberland Stone near Culloden Moor”
Between the dunes. There’s just the sea breeze and me.Continue reading “The Space Between Dunes”
That’s not historical hot chocolate there; it’s totally modern and topped with ice cream, and was rather delightful on a snowy day.
Elizabeth, the main character, uses a slightly simpler method, back in the 18th century, in this quote from the book:
“I shave slivers of chocolate from the block and stir them into hot water over the fire. I add sugar and mix until it is all well blended. Then I pour it all into the pot with the warm milk and whisk and whisk until it’s frothy and perfect.”
Whatever century you’re in… yum!
The first 75 words of the novel are up on Paragraph Planet today. They’ll be gone at midnight so I took a wee screen shot:
FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE, inspired by the kidnapped children of Aberdeen, is out now, just in time for Easter weekend, in paperback and on kindle.
And not to be forgotten, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR: it blends the Scottish witchcraft accusations with a love story, and is out now:
Those are the letter seals of Lord Pitsligo, a man I have written about before:
- when I visited his castle
- when I searched for his cave
- and then on The Witch, The Weird and the Wonderful blog where I talked more fully about his life.
The seals were shown to me by a direct descendant of Lord Pitsligo. I got to hold them and turn them on their hinges, which was wonderfully informative (and exciting!).
FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE will be out now!
Elizabeth craves adventure… excitement… love…
For now though, she has to settle for a trip from her family’s castle, to the port in Aberdeen, where her father has promised she’ll be permitted to buy a horse… all of her own.
Little does she suspect this simple journey will change her life, forever. And as she dreams of riding her new mount through the forests and glens of the Manteith estate, she can have no idea that she might never see them again.
For what lies ahead is danger, unimagined… and the fearful realities of kidnap and slavery.
But even when everything seems lost, most especially the chance of ever getting home again, Elizabeth finds friendship, comfort… and that much prized love, just where she least expected it.
Set in the mid eighteenth century, Fireflies and Chocolate is a story of strength, courage and tolerance, in a time filled with far too many prejudices.
It’s all getting a bit too exciting for me again… I need a nice calming walk in the woods below the witch’s brooms (growth abnormalities caused by a fungus in the trees)!
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.
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