Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Scottish Customs: From the Cradle to the Grave


Author: Margaret Bennett
ISBN: 184158293X / 9781841582931

Why did I choose this book? I have an avid interest in the history, and folklore of the Highlands, even before moving here last year.  I am curious about the superstitions, and such like surrounding life events of the Scottish people.

What did I like? Oh, everything, but particularly the inclusion of some Gaelic and Scots in the words used by folk.

This book is mostly a compilation of interviews with Scottish folk recalling the procedures for, and celebrations of significant events in the human life cycle: birth, baptism, marriage, divorce, and death.  The author has arranged this methodically - if not strictly by region - and transcribed them in the speaker's own words, with accompanying translations if needed. 

I have to say there is a broad range of lore, custom and attitude covered in this book. What I found fascinating was how the customs changed over the years, sometimes within less than a decade, and how the culture of incomers might have effected such changes.

It is a good introduction for the lay person, such as myself, despite being a scholarly work.  I read elsewhere someone said this is not a book you read cover to cover, but delve into from time to time.  I disagree.  I read it from cover to cover, savouring every record contained within. 

What makes this book a real gem is the extensive endnotes providing the source of each interview, and further explanation of various snippets within them.  There is also a long bibliography, and "further reading" list for those who wish to learn more.  For these two things alone, I am grateful to Margaret Bennett.

Although I have a paperback copy, it was left in storage during my move [Sadly, along with most of my library for the time being.]  So, I read this on my Kindle and was able to make extensive notes for future reference, as I am sure to return to this book regularly.

I was happy to find no typographical errors in the Kindle edition, which sometimes seems to happen these days.

What didn't I like? Is it really a complaint that there were too many books in the further reading section that I now want to read?

Would I recommend it? Yes.  I would highly recommend it.

Rating: 5/5.

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