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10 New Encounters – Storytelling at TradFest 2018

Storytelling knows no boundaries, it takes us on a journey beyond existing facts or knowledge, it revives what is forgotten or past, it engages what surrounds us and teaches us something new. It’s the perfect gateway into Intangible Heritage.

We have gathered a list of 10 storytelling events from this year’s TradFest programme that will teach you astonishing facts about the world around you, challenge your knowledge of familiar characters and places, and possibly change the way you see the universe.

1. Is there a certain hill or boulder near you that bears an unusual name? Have you ever wondered where ‘Collie Cam’s Stane’ in Blackwater, or the ‘Warrior’s Stone’ in Glenisla got their names from?

“A long time ago, locals were frequently terrorised by giants who lived in the glen. 

If you are passing Collie Cam’s Stane in Blackwater or the Warrior’s Stone in Glenisla you may hear growling and rumbling. Perhaps it is the water but, more likely as locals have said for centuries, it’s Collie Cam and his wife still at it, hammer and tongs!” (Lindsey Gibb & C.A. Hope)

Listen to the tales that shaped the names of the places we still inhabit today and join co-authors Lindsey Gibb & C.A. Hope, for the launch of their Perthshire Folk Tales series published by History Press. (Sun 29 Apr, 1pm)


2. What do Leith and Norway have in common? Well, as it turns out, lots! It may already be well known that both places share a history of whaling and love for stories about the sea, but did you know that Norway’s famous poet Gabriel Scott was born in Leith? He was named after the famous angel and author, Sir Walter Scott.

Newhaven Community Choir is delighted to welcome Herrekoret Compagnie Trass to Leith Docker’s Club! “Trass means thrawn and we are looking forward to splicing and strengthening our shared traditions by singing together at TradFest!

Share an afternoon of song, with stories from Newhaven and Norway at Thrawn Tales and Stubborn Songs, hosted by storyteller Jan Bee Brown and Norwegian storyteller Hilde Eskilde. (Sun 29 Apr, 3pm)


 3. Banking is boring? Think again! Historical storyteller Gillian Paterson brings the hidden stories of the Bank of Scotland headquarters on The Mound to life, in all their surprising detail.

“From the story of skinflint banker Robin Carrick who travelled in a carriage full of vegetables, to Robert Shirlaw and his secret ledger of cheeky cartoons, this is banking as you’ve never heard it before.” (Gillian Paterson)

Don’t you want to know what lies Beyond the Bank and listen to the voices of the Vaults? (Fri 27 Apr, 1pm & 3pm)


4. “It’s not John Knox house: it’s mine!

It might be known as John Knox House, but original resident Mariota Arres is less than happy about it!

Join Gillian Paterson for a historical tour Inside Mariota’s House, with a light-hearted look at the history of one of Edinburgh’s most fascinating houses, it’s connection with Mary, Queen of Scots and the occasional joke about John Knox’s beard. (Sat 28 & Sun 29 Apr, 1pm & 3pm)


 5. Journeys: The Women who made the Mountains sing, is a unique multilingual storytelling experience between Finnish Rune singer and storyteller, Anna-Maria Toivonen and Highland Perthshire storyteller, Claire Hewitt. Together they explore stories from their homelands.

The magic begins when people gather together and travel into the same land of story where they can let their imagination flow.” (Anna-Maria Toivonen)

Enjoy a runesong melody for a flavour of what’s to come from Anna-Maria on Instagram. (Sat 28 Apr, 7.30pm)


6. Taking place at the National Mining Museum, The Purple, White & Green: The Story of the Scottish Suffragettes, is TradFest’s only event taking place in Midlothian!

A sell out in February at the Storytelling Centre for the centenary anniversary of some women’s right to vote, NicolaWright and LeaTaylor took to the streets armed with toffee hammers, and banners and stopped Edinburgh, just like their predecessing Suffragette sisters. Let yourself be entertained, whilst learning about this important time of Scottish social history. (Fri 4 May, 7pm)

‘It was a joy to see Wright and Taylor discuss a period about which they clearly have ample knowledge.’ (The Student)


7. We’ve all heard the tales of Robin Hood and his life in Sherwood Forest, rebelling against the Sheriff and protecting the innocent! But how many of us can name a gutsy female, who fought for her rights and defied authority, during those times?

“We wanted some feisty females who have thrown their fists in the air to join our merry men. Standing alongside the usual suspects – ranting Jamie Macpherson and Nordic outlaw Jens Langknif – are Maud Gonne MacBride, the 1911 ‘Turra coo’ tax protest and two characters from the 1914 graphic novel Suffrajitsu: Mrs. Pankhurst’s Amazons.”

Come along for a showcase of international and female Robin Hoods joining the well-loved gang of infamous outlaws at Robin Hood: Riots, Rants & Rebellion! (Sun 6 May, 7pm)


8. What is it like to be unusually tall in the world?

Due to a life-threatening condition which is said to affect tall people, Alice Fernbank and Svend-Erik Engh – both very tall storytellers – began sharing their experiences of being unusually tall in the world.

As storytellers, they wanted to explore their ideas through myth and folktale, by looking at the lives of the Giants and their gradual departure from the earth.Who were these great beings once said to roam the earth? How did they live? How did they love? Why were they feared? Why did they disappear? 

Come and join them as they explore and revive the old tradition of giant folk tales. (Sun 29 Apr, 7.30pm)


9. Our youth is our future!

Celebrating the passage to adulthood, Fledgling Flights and Footsteps, gives you the chance to hear 9 different voices from Edinburgh’s own traditional storytelling club on the theme of mentorship and coming of age. (Tue 1 May, 7.30pm)


10. In amongst the stories about different viewpoints, this final storytelling event includes one of the oldest shared vantage points of all, the astronomical constellation Taurus.

The stellar bull, who has been gazed at by members of tribal societies for over 15,000 years, marks the seasons change from winter to summer and features in the tale Mary Rushiecoats and the Wee Black Bull.

“Winter has begun when it rises along with the Pleiades on his shoulder in November, our Samhain. Then summer has arrived when the Bull ‘dies’, lost to the path of the sun at the beginning of summer, our Beltane. Sacred Bull stories and songs have come down to us primarily from oral tradition, their virility so great that they have found their way into print from very early times.” (Linda Williamson)

Join Linda Williamson and Mio Shapley, who accompanies tales with beautiful Celtic clarsach, on their exploration of the cosmos and storytelling throughout Europe and Asia. (Mon 30 Apr, 7pm)