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The idea of witchcraft has always held an important place in Scottish stories and folklore: from ancient legends to some of the most popular films and TV series of the present day. Now Scotland’s tales of witchcraft are being marked during the Year of Stories 2022 with a new Witch Trail created by VisitScotland, highlighting 15 locations across the country for visitors to explore year-round.
With Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022 in full swing and Halloween around the corner, there is no better time to delve into the rich tales surrounding so-called witches by exploring these locations and attractions all with links to themes associated with witchcraft including a love of nature and modern takes on the lore.Discover Legendary Locations
Scotland’s scenery and wildlife are so spectacular that they can only be explained with the help of powerful magic – at least for those who choose to believe the old legends! According to one of these, Loch Awe, one of Scotland’s beauty spots, was created when a sleepy witch flooded the valley by accident… And the hills overlooking Blair Castle were rumoured to hide a powerful witch who was able to shape shift into wild creatures.
The folklore surrounding witchcraft has lost none of its fascination since it inspired some of Sir Walter Scott’s most iconic novels. The 19th century writer’s home, Abbotsford, boasts one of the rarest and most important collections of books on witchcraft. Visitors to Scott’s stunning library can still see his treasured “Witch Corner” today. Literature lovers can also head to Moray Speyside and stay overnight in one of the five luxury glamping pods at Macbeth’s Hillock, said to be the site where Shakespeare’s Macbeth met the three witches who led him to his fate.
For some ancient history steeped in magical folklore, visit the Calanais Standing Stones on the Isle of Lewis which have been standing for over 5,000 years. The stones are home to an interesting legend about a rumoured witch and a fairy cow… they also served as inspiration for the magical Craigh na Dun in TV’s Outlander.Hear True Stories
Whether in Scotland’s cities, National Parks or islands – visitors with a deep interest in the history around witchcraft and persecution of so-called witches in Scotland will find a range of guided walking tours that shine a light on this dark chapter of the country’s past. Join Invisible Cities Tours in Edinburgh on their Real Women of Edinburgh tour to discover the stories of the fascinating women that reportedly walked the cobbled streets of Edinburgh once upon a time, so-called witches included. Visitors can give their feet a rest by popping into Glasgow Women’s Library, a treasure trove full of historical and contemporary artifacts and archive materials celebrating the lives, histories and achievements of women.
For tales of historical witchcraft, torture, spells and charms, look no further than Orkney, once a hotbed of allegations and accusations. Peer into Marwick’s Hole where those accused of witchcraft were imprisoned at St Magnus Cathedral and walk in the footsteps of the condemned to Gallow’Ha on a guided tour with Spiritual Orkney. Or wander through the woods and along trails of the beautiful Cairngorms National Park with Strathspey Storywalks, tasting wild teas while listening to local stories of kings, witches, fairy folk and highwaymen. Tour guide, Sarah, will help visitors honour the memory of so-called witches by tuning into the quiet voices within the landscape.Experience the Healing Powers of Nature
Scotland’s magical lochs, ancient forests, rugged coastline and majestic mountains make it the perfect place to find that deep connection with nature that so-called witches were often known for and regain knowledge of the health benefits of nature to both body and mind.
Seaweed, for instance, has a key place in the healing legacy of Scotland and was likely used by the wise women and healers of times gone by. East Neuk Seaweed offer various hands-on workshops in the coastal locations throughout Fife that highlight the healing properties and nutritional value of this sea vegetable. Visitors can dip their toes into the clear waters of Scotland and learn how to forage for and cook with wild seaweed.
Visitors to Glen Dye School of Wild Wellness and Bushcraft have the chance to immerse themselves in all that the magical Aberdeenshire countryside has to offer. Glen Dye is a private estate surrounded by wilderness and moorland with 30,000 acres of stunning land, making it the perfect place to experience the therapeutic benefits of mother nature.
Head down to Dumfries and Galloway to visit Galloway Wild Foods, and learn about all areas of foraging, from wild foods and tipples to the uses of traditional and modern medicinal plants. Crouch down to pick a plump mushroom or reach up high for the juiciest berry and discover what delicious concoctions can be created from foraged delights.Potions and Riddles
Every aspiring witch and wizard needs to fuel their powers and there’s no better place than The Root of Magic in Glasgow to enjoy a bite or a tipple in style. Tuck into the “Monster Toastie of Monsters” in the Potions café, sip on “Worms Wart Soup” in the bar or brew up some magical concoctions in a Potions Cocktail Class.
Looking for a mystical adventure and a bit of fun? Look no further than the Witchcraft and Wizardry Escape Room. In a classroom full of tricks, puzzles, challenges and spells, visitors must solve the mysteries to escape the grasps of the evil professor. Those who make it out can reward themselves with a stroll through Stirling, a small city with a big history.
Enjoy some fine dining in a setting filled with history at The Witchery by the Castle. Located in an impressive 16th century building at the gates of Edinburgh Castle, The Witchery by the Castle is a unique and atmospheric hotel and restaurant that takes its name from the innocent women accused of witchcraft on Castlehill.Discover all of Scotland’s Witch Trail locations by downloading the map: visitscotland.com/witch-trail /For even more witch-related experiences head to our dedicated Witch Trail blog: visitscotland.com/witch-trail-blog /
ENDSNotes to editors
Scotland is gradually reopening now restrictions have eased. However, we continue to live in uncertain times and so, while we are delighted to be providing our media with a regular update once more, we ask that responsible travel is considered paramount for anyone planning a trip to Scotland.COVID-19
This copy was correct at the time of going to press. VisitScotland cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information and accepts no responsibility for any error or misrepresentation. All liability for loss, disappointment, negligence or other damage caused by the reliance on the information contained herewith, or in the event of any company, individual or firm ceasing to trade, is hereby excluded.
VisitScotland launches new Witch Trail, inviting visitors to discover dark legends, truly magical places and observe ways to live like a modern-day witch in Scotland.