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Customer Review

on 30 January 2007
I grew up in rural Perthshire and loved the mysterious stories of hermits, dragons, fairies washing their feet in ponds, and lone headless horsemen that went with the landscape popularly known as the gateway to the highlands. A spectacular view at the end of a mornings hiking was always, it seemed to me, so much more enjoyable when accompanied by the legend of the local witch cursing the mean spirited excise man.

A complete encyclopaedic overview of all the local tales has been long overdue, and Mr Holder has done very well in producing this for us. After a fairly brief but useful introduction, wherein, the author sets out the terms and topics he will be concerned with, the book is broken down into chapters each covering a smaller geographical area of Perthshire. The great advantage of this is that if you are off on a walk around Blairgowrie, you need only read the chapter on Strathmore.

The two great legends of Scots history based in Perthshire are Macbeth, and The Stone of Destiny; and while he admits that each of them would fill a book itself, he deals with the main versions of each legend in an even handed manner. In this sense the books serves as a taster, and if the reader goes to the superb bibliography at the back there are citations for further reading.

But the real benefit of Holders book is the amount of small, local detail under each of the headings, occasionally with an odd word from the author to let you know he hasn't suspended his disbelief too far. So if you are out on a walk, and see something Celtic carved on a standing stone, you can bet he has a short explanation of both the stone, and the later carved motif.

There are dozens of monochrome photographs throughout, and the book might have benefited from a few in colour, but this would no doubt have added disproportionately to the cost.

I would recommend you get yourself a copy of this if you have any interest in the history of Perthshire, or are a regular hiker are cyclist around its lochs; it's not a travel guide, but is an excellent supplementary volume if folklore and the supernatural are your area of interest.

Drew Mishmash
6 people found this helpful
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