Author Duncan Harley's new book is full of tales of North-east culture and mythology

Scottish historian and writer Duncan Harley has added to his collection of books of life and events in the North-east.

By Kevin McRoberts
Friday, 20th August 2021, 6:30 am
Long Shadows - Tales of Scotland's North East is Duncan Harley’s third book about the area.
Long Shadows - Tales of Scotland's North East is Duncan Harley’s third book about the area.

Author of The ‘A-Z of Curious Aberdeenshire’ and ‘The Little History of Aberdeenshire’ – with both titles receiving positive reviews – Duncan has now published ‘Long Shadows – Tales of Scotland's North East’.

This new book celebrates the culture and the mythology of the North East of Scotland, with Duncan taking the reader on a grand tour of the curious and the bizarre, the strange and the unusual.

Read about Ellon’s Boatie Tam, blind Johnnie Moir the Bard of Banchory and Charlie Marioni the Cullen Hermit.

Take a peek beneath the skirts of Queen Victoria, learn about Stonehaven’s Flying Farmer and check out the scandal of Telford’s ‘Cheap John’ Parliamentary Churches.

Biggles, Annie Lennox, Mary Webb, Hector the Hero and Robert the Bruce inhabit the pages alongside tales from Fochabers, Cove, Aberdeen City, Maggieknockater, Tomintoul, Braemar and the lost township of Lenabo.

There are tales about cowboys in Huntly, Buchan’s​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ very first car accident, the Mearns man with a thousand accordions and the little-known Transatlantic voyage of the fishing trawler ‘Girl Pat’.

Ducan said: “In early 2014 I was commissioned by Leopard Magazine to research and write a series of articles featuring the towns, the people and the history of the North East of Scotland. The magazine was at the time owned by the University of Aberdeen and the brief was wide.

"The ‘Our Town’ series was the result, and over the succeeding two years some 20 full length feature articles made the magazine’s pages, alongside several other historical pieces which took shape along the way.

"The featured communities varied widely in nature, and included fisher towns, whisky towns and places such as Braemar, Portsoy and Tomintoul, which although small in size, are big in stature.

"This, my third book about the North East of Scotland, comprises the bones of these original articles brought up to date and completely rewritten and with many important additions.

"When choosing the original topics for the series I was acutely aware that many more towns and indeed villages deserved to be featured, but that various constraints made that impossible at that time. I have, I hope, made at least partial amends for these omissions and have included a chosen few within this volume."

In his two previous books, Duncan exposed readers to a mix of history and mythology.

The intention of this new book, he said, was to expand on these themes in an entertaining and hopefully informative way.

• ‘Long Shadows – Tales of Scotland’s North East’ is available from Amazon. Signed copies are available from Inverurie Whisky Shop. The book is supported by The Doric Board.