From delusions of greatness to insanity – the sad story of James Hepburn


(c) Scottish Borders Council; Supplied by The Public Catalogue FoundationThere are some fates that remain forever ingrained in your mind, impossible to forget. One such fate is that of the glamorous Earl of Bothwell, Scottish nobleman, husband to the flamboyant Mary Queen of Scots. It seems to me James Hepburn was larger than life from the moment he entered it, and to have all that vibrant energy , all that swaggering maleness reduced to an insane wreck chained to a post feels wrong, somehow.

I’m not saying James Hepburn didn’t have something coming his way – of course he did. Men can’t go about the world, ordering it to fit their purposes, without there being a price to pay. Hang on a minute; quite a few men do, don’t they? And quite a few of those power brokers never end up caged like a beast. But James Hepburn did, and all because his youthful indiscretions finally caught up with…

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Catherine Hokin: Historical Fiction Masterclass

Writing historical fiction

Scottish Writers' Centre

catherine hokin 1

Back in January, the SWC was lucky enough to welcome along writer Catherine Hokin for a masterclass in writing historical fiction. Catherine’s first novel, Blood and Roses – which focuses on the life of medieval queen Margaret of Anjou – was published in 2016 and in addition to being a novelist, Catherine is also a member of author collective The History Girls and a book reviewer and contributor to the Historical Writers’ Association. We can’t think of anyone better placed to guide us through the joys and difficulties of penning historical fiction!

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Clava Cairns

The Clava Cairns, deep in history and the highlands….

The Hazel Tree

We came across Clava Cairns as the sun sank in the winter sky, glinting through the branches and leaving deep shadowy hollows still thick with frost from the night before.

abernethy-jw-jan-2017-125It’s a place that you have to seek out, taking a few turns down narrow country roads, past fields and woods until a long stone wall and a brown road sign tell you that you’re there.  Pulling into the small car park alongside, you’re still not really aware of the place until you step out from the trees and into the grassy area that they seem to be so intently guarding.  Then you see them:  three wide circular mounds topped with rounded cobbles, each one apparently surrounded by its own ring of standing stones.

abernethy-jw-jan-2017-94abernethy-jw-jan-2017-84Long shadows radiated like fingers, blurring the edge between reality and imagination.  Sunlight caught random patches of moss and stone, while on the lee side all was…

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