Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Spectral Treasure!

I've blogged once before about fabulous Innerpeffray Library, Scotland's oldest lending library:
I'm pleased to say that I visited it again today. Fellow author Che Golden came to visit me in the depths of rural Perthshire. Whenever I have guests I try my hardest to think of some delightful entertainment for them, and what better than a trip to see a leper squint and the King James Daemonologie?

        Above: you can see by Che's expression that she is thrilled to see her first ever leper squint!

Whilst I was at Innerpeffray, librarian Lara Haggerty showed me another treasure. The spine of the book announced it as Broomhall's History of Specters (printed in 1658) but the title page describes it as follows:
A Treatise of Specters, OR, AN HISTORY of Apparitions, Oracles, Prophecies and Predictions With Dreams, Visions and Revelations AND THE Cunning Delusions of the DEVIL, to strengthen the Idolatry of the GENTILES, and the Worshipping of Saints departed; with the Doctrine of Purgatory. A Work very seasonable for discovering the Impostures and Religious Cheats of these Times.

The really wonderful thing about Innerpeffray Library is that you are allowed to read the books, even the ones that are three or four centuries old. The Treatise of Specters is an absolutely fascinating tome full of collected tales and anecdotes about ghosts, witches and monsters. I was particularly struck by this one:

39. Jacobus Ruffus writes in the fifth Book, the sixth Chapter, of the conception of men, that in our time Magdalena, a Citizens Maidservant was ravished by a foul spirit, and then took her leave on her repenting, by the order of the Ministers of the Church; after which she felt such cruel torments and pangs in her belly, that she thought every hour almost that she should be delivered of a child; then came forth out of her womb iron nails, wood, pieces of glasse, hair, wooll, stones, bones, iron and many such like. 

There is not much to add to that, except, "Nasty, eh?"

I hope when I have a little more time to go back to the library and copy out some of the other tales, which I will post here in due course.


  1. Not that I'm on your list of potential invitees, but I'd be very happy with tea and scones.

  2. Yes, please! That's a book DEFINITELY in need of a reprint.

  3. Um, & I'd enjoy tea & scones too. Or chocolate. Library trips are nice too.

  4. I'll pop back for some more excerpts as soon as I get the opportunity! BTW Innerpeffray Library is undergoing some renovation work to make room for a new exhibition of Scottish books coming from the States. Allegedly, there are going to be facilities for refreshments once the work is done - that is all that is needed to make a visit perfect! :-)