New session – 1st Talk

22 September 2014

Conference Room, 27 George Square

5.15 pm

Speaker: Martha McGill

Subject:  “The Folkloric Ghost in Early Modern Scotland.”


From the ethereal wraith to the corpse-like revenant, the ghosts of

early modern Scotland varied widely. This talk will explore the

diverse roles they played in popular culture, making use of the

fragmentary evidence from ballads, court records, pamphlet literature

and folklorists’ accounts. It will consider the differences between

Lowland and Highland ghosts, and look at how ghosts intertwined with

phenomena such as witches, fairies and second sight apparitions. Elite

discourses on ghosts evolved significantly between the Reformation and

the nineteenth century, and the talk will also analyse how (or

whether) popular stories changed as a result. An under-researched

topic, ghosts offer a valuable window into early modern religion and

folk culture.


Martha McGill is a fourth-year PhD History student, working on a

thesis entitled ‘Ghosts in Enlightenment Scotland’.

Afterwards will going for dinner at Vittoria on George IV Bridge and

attendees of the talk are most welcome to join us.