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Spectral warriors and haunted castles: Ghosts and the formation of Scottish identity
Which nation is most plagued with supernatural horrors? ‘Without doubt or hesitation’, declared one 19th-century writer, it was Scotland.

This talk will explore Scotland’s reputation for being a nation ‘whare ghaists and houlets nightly cry’. It will show how medieval Scots told stories of walking corpses, with figures including William Wallace doing battle with the restless dead. We will see that ghost stories declined after the 1560 Reformation, but resurged in the late 17th century, with ghosts taking up new roles as religious propagandists.

Join Dr Martha McGill for a 45-minute talk followed by a 30-minute Q&A. The webinar will be recorded and the recording made available to ticket holders for 7 days after broadcast.


The event will be chaired by Dr Allan Kennedy, senior lecturer in history at the University of Dundee, and History Scotland’s consultant editor.

Registration fee: £10. Starts 6.30pm (GMT+1). To find the start time in your time zone, visit https://www.timeanddate.com.

(image courtesy The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. "Brom Bones and Ichabod)

May 12, 2021 06:30 PM in London

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Dr Martha McGill
Dr McGill's research interests lie in early modern British intellectual, social and cultural history. Her work has explored how changing conceptions of the supernatural reflect on religious culture, developments in natural philosophy, relations between different social groups, and national identity. She completed a PhD in History at the University of Edinburgh in 2016. She subsequently held postdoctoral fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, Edinburgh, and the Warburg Institue, London. In 2018 she started at the University of Warwick as a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, working on a project entitled 'Bodies, Selves and the Supernatural in Early Modern Britain'.