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Episode 2

55 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 16 January 2011

Radio Scotland's genealogy programme with advice and powerful stories as people delve into their family history. This week we look at myths and stories that have been passed down through generations.

Was my ancestor burned as a witch? Did my family leave Scotland after stealing the Crown Jewels? Am I related to a Scottish folk singer? Was my ancestor involved in the construction of the original Tay Rail Bridge? These are some of the questions that genealogist Dr Bruce Durie investigates to find out whether or not there is any truth in these family tales.

  • this week's programme

    One of the first pieces of advice a genealogist will give you is to start your research by talking to your oldest living relatives ... quickly followed up by "but don’t believe everything they say"!

    Over the years stories can change but they can often be a starting point which can send you in the right direction of the truth. So this week Bill and the team are investigating myths and stories.

  • jimmy mcbeath

    jimmy mcbeath

    We take a trip to Portsoy to meet listener Wendy de Rusett who is trying to establish whether she is connected to Scottish folk singer Jimmy McBeath. Wendy visits his grave in the cemetery overlooking the sea and, with the help of his friend Tom Spiers, hears the story of this colourful and fondly remembered man.

    Picture shows Wendy at Jimmy's graveside.

  • Jimmy's friend Tom Spiers

    Jimmy's friend Tom Spiers

  • witchcraft

    Listener Elizabeth Stewart’s research took an interesting turn when exploring the life of ancestor Catherine Ferguson. She took a trip to the property where Catherine had lived and got chatting to the current owner who relayed the story about her reputedly being a witch. She apparently had been, "carted off to Edinburgh, put on trial and burned at the stake".

    Bill talks to Professor Hugh McLachlan from Glasgow Caledonian University about the offence of witchcraft and asks whether he thinks there might be some truth to this rumour.

  • the honours of scotland

    the honours of scotland

    Janet Philp got in touch with us with a great family tale: "My Granny used to have this story that her and her sister had traced back their family tree but had stopped at the point that they got thrown out of Scotland for stealing the crown jewels. At that point we didn’t pay any attention to it and it went in to the past".

    But on a visit to Edinburgh Castle Janet was amazed to see the name Grainger – a name present in her own family tree - appear in information about the history of the Honours of Scotland.

    We visit Edinburgh to meet Janet and Richard Wellander, Head of Collections at the castle, where the crown jewels are on display. Richard tells the fascinating history of the crown jewels and their travels north in the 1600s to Dunnottar Castle where Christian Grainger took it upon herself to protect them from Oliver Cromwell's army.

    Did what Janet’s Granny actually said have some truth behind it? Dr Bruce Durie investigates.

    Picture shows Janet and Richard Wellander.


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