"Supernatural Scotland" by Eileen Dunlop forms one of the series of Scotties Activity Books. These are books dealing with a wide range of different Scottish subjects for young readers. Each book presents its subject in a well written, accessible and highly illustrated format which makes good use of colour. The aim is for the books to be used at home or in the classroom, and each concludes with a section of quizzes, questions and activities along with information about places to go in Scotland to find out more about the subject matter, and sources of further information.
"Supernatural Scotland" is enormous fun. It has, inevitably, a lot of ground to cover in a relatively tight format, and it does so by devoting a series of double page spreads to many different aspects of Scotland's deeply superstitious past (and, to a lesser degree, present.)
The book opens with a section on ghosts and graveyards, and a general background text about the background to the belief in ghosts in Scotland is punctuated by specific examples: such as the sailor said to haunt remote Sandwood Bay in Sutherland, or the tombstone in the old graveyard at Inchnadamph whose perpetual damp patch is said to be tears. In typically inclusive style, this section also draws in seers and second sight, bodysnatchers, and the mysterious miniature coffins discovered on Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh in 1836. We then move on to a section about haunted houses, which talks ofGlamis Castle as Scotland's most haunted castle: while other examples are less grand, such as the ghost said to haunt 12 Ann Street in Edinburgh, or another who wanders the banks of the River Esk in Midlothian.
Other sections look at witches in Scotland, and at Halloween, before we move into territory inhabited by fairies; glaistigs and brownies; merfolk; selkies; and kelpies. You may not have heard of a glaistig before, or perhaps of the dragons once believed to live in caves in southern Scotland, but you will have heard of the Loch Ness Monster. Sections on standing stones and holy wells are followed by tales coming from nature, whether it be birds, plants or mountains. And much more... This is a book intended to broaden horizons and spark interest in the wide range of topics it covers: and it succeeds very well indeed.