It’s fitting that while the Queen officially launches the reinstated Borders-to-Edinburgh train line after nearly a fifty year wait, James Spence is getting ready to launch his curated collection of Border folk tales, which is the first in over 20 years.
Sir Walter Scott – whom Waverley Station is named in honour of – was a renowned collector of Border folk tales which he’d published in story collections, and now this new collection, Scottish Borders Folk Tales, carries on that tradition of showcasing the best and most renowned stories from the region.
This lively and entertaining collection is rich in stories tall and true, ancient and recent, dark and funny, fantastical and powerful. Written in classic borders dialect and laid out in chronological order, from oldest to the newest, revealing the changing priorities of the Border communities, you will find the Lochmaben Harper, Tam Linn, Thomas the Rhymer, Muckle Mou’d Meg and Michael Scott the Wizard, alongside tales of witches and hill-dwellers, as these well-loved and magical tales – some appearing here for the first time – are retold in an engaging style, shaped by James’ many years of storytelling.
Lovingly collected by James Spence who grew up in the Borders, and richly illustrated by him too, these enchanting tales are sure to be enjoyed and shared time and again as he explains:
“As a storyteller in modern times you rarely get a chance tae tell long stories, so it was only when compiling this book I paid them muckle heed. These ancient tales are o muckle great quests and I’ve been amazed tae discover how powerful these stories are.
“I want this book to serve as a legacy for anyone who appreciates the Borders – its landscapes, wit and wisdom – through these incredible stories. I imbrue these tales with the love I have of the Borders, where I was raised. I believe these stories are not just important tae the Borders, but of great significance tae the lore of Scotland.
“I invite all tae help me celebrate the launch of this book at the most fitting venue, the Scottish Storytelling Centre. I will have a terrific time on the night sharing a few of its many treasures and I invite you to have a terrific time also by joining me.“
James launches Scottish Border Folk Tales at the Scottish Storytelling Centre on Friday 25 September at 6pm with live retellings. The event is free and non-ticketed.