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Telling tales in Forth Valley

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Visitors and locals in Forth Valley are being urged to delve into the rich history and local legends of the region, as part of this year’s Themed Year celebrations.

The Year of Stories 2022 aims to spotlight, celebrate and promote the wealth of stories inspired by, written, or created in Scotland.

And VisitScotland staff at the Stirling and Aberfoyle iCentres are encouraging visitors to unearth some of the best-known secrets, myths and legends associated with the local area.

An important part of the information centre’s role is helping visitors to enjoy the area responsibly, by linking visitors with local tourism businesses and sharing information on some of the hidden gems to be found.

Visitor Services Advisor Graham Hamilton said Forth Valley is a region rich in history and folklore, with many fascinating stories and characters still celebrated across the region with associated visitor experiences.

Graham, who is one of three visitor services advisors based in Stirling’s iCentre by the Old Town Jail, enjoys regaling the story of the Green Lady of Stirling Castle, believed to be the ghost of Mary Queen of Scots serving girl, who perished following a fire at the castle. She is now believed to be a harbinger of death and will curse anyone who looks at her.

John Erskine, the 17th Earl of Mar is another local character with interesting ties to the region and the history of the nation. He was custodian of the infant James VI of Scotland (Mary Queen of Scots’ son) and Regent of Scotland until the young king came of age. He was also Keeper of Stirling Castle and wanted to build a mansion for himself as grand and is rumoured to have stolen bricks and stone from Cambuskenneth Abbey to do so. Alloa Tower in Clackmannanshire was the seat of the Erskine family, and it is said a curse was placed on the earl there by the Abbey’s abbot Patrick, a suspected necromancer. Ever since, bad luck and tragedies befell the family, losing their land and titles following the Jacobite rising of 1715.

Graham said: “The Year of Stories presents the ideal opportunity for our visitor services advisors to recount some of the fascinating people and places to discover right across Scotland. We were all told the story of the Green Lady as kids in Stirling and warned never to meet her gaze as we went around the castle and I love telling those kinds of tales to our visitors.

“We would encourage locals and visitors alike to pop in to our iCentre by the Old Town Jail and in Aberfoyle for suggestions on some of the fantastic things to see and do across the area.

Colin McRae from the Aberfoyle iCentre, located on the town’s main street, told of the Doon Hill where it is said that local minister, Reverend Robert Kirk, was killed by faeries in 1692 after publishing a book revealing their secrets. His body was found on the hill, which he had said was the gateway to fairy queen’s kingdom. Look out for the solitary pine on top of the hill, which some believe still holds the reverend’s soul.

Colin said: “It is often the more quirky and unusual details about local attractions and stories that visitors remember. 

“Between Stirling and Aberfoyle, we have more than 30 years’ experience welcoming visitors and we know how much visitors love to hear local tales from people living in the area.

“We’re always keen to hear from local businesses and community groups about how we can work together to share their stories, promote new businesses, products and destinations to our visitors. Our iCentre is an important part of the town and we want to ensure that returning visitors receive a warm welcome and get to see the best sites and attractions the region has to offer.”

The delivery of an exciting programme of special events is an important part of the Year of Stories. There are more than 100 events taking place across the country as part of the Year of Stories events programme. Look out for events taking place across Forth Valley including Tales from the Castle which opens the gates to Scotland’s extraordinary stories at Stirling Castle after hours this Winter. Plus ‘Woven Identities’ art exhibition at Stirling Smith Art Gallery & Museum from 22 September - 30 October and Tanuki Tales – Stories from Japan and Beyond at the Japanese Garden in Cowden, Clackmannanshire starting in October.

VisitScotland’s iCentre network can offer a platform for tourism businesses to connect directly with visitors. They can also host supplier events and offer a range of ticketing services, sales of local artisan products, as well as onward booking advice for visitors across Scotland. 

For more information on VisitScotland iCentres, visit:  https://www.visitscotland.com/about/practical-information/vic/ 

For more information on Scotland’s Year of Stories, visit: https://www.visitscotland.com/about/themed-years/stories/ 

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Telling tales in Forth Valley

VisitScotland iCentre staff celebrate Year of Stories

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