The Folklore of the Scottish Highlands (Online)
Taught by David McNicoll
Although I now live in New York I come from the heart of the Scottish Highlands, a land steeped in
whisky in both story and song, and where I honed my knowledge and enjoyment of our national drink. Over the last decade I have taken that experience and built upon it, representing as ambassador several Scotch brands in the city. I am about to launch a new book exploring the ‘language of whisky’, and the origins of the names of those familiar bottles on the back-bar.
The Scottish Highlands are rich in stories of warriors of old, of fierce battles amid dramatic landscapes, of castles and clans, of poets and lost love. But, as the mist swirls around the high peaks, the shadows lengthen, and the amber whisky poured by the peat fire in good company there is a tacit understanding that also among us are those who dwell in the Otherworld. Some make for great tales to tell the children; others are salient warnings not to meddle in that which belongs elsewhere and sometimes the window between the two world opens and the realm of folklore creeps in.
Like all Celts, Highlanders are nostalgic mythmakers, and we are a superstitious peoples which makes for great storytelling, and in this class I’ll explore some of those ancient beliefs - timeless traditions from Second Sight to strange beings that until very recently were taken as a given and walking with earthly feet among the mountains and glens of the north. And do any of these legends have a basis in actual history?