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Death in Scotland

Chapters From the Twelfth Century to the Twenty-First

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Peter C. Jupp and Hilary J. Grainger

For the past twenty years, Scottish death culture has emerged as a focus of scholars drawn from a wide variety of disciplines. Death comes to us all but too often we treat it as a private or personal matter. The former taboo about death is slowly lifting and contemporary research is playing an increasing part. Accordingly, the fifteen essays gathered in this book probe the multi-facetted role of death in Scottish history and culture. They explore personal fears of death, anxieties about Predestination, prayers for the dead and the appeal of Spiritualism. They analyse the public face of death in law, economics and medicine: changes in capital punishment, funeral poverty, the teaching of anatomy and prevention of stillbirths. Within the worlds of religion and ritual, they consider the making of saints, burial practice following the Scottish Reformation and the tradition of keening within the Gáidhealtachd. With an Introduction by Professor Jane Dawson, these essays by specialists in the field not only highlight the richness of the primary sources for studying death in Scotland but reveal how death studies identify key features of Scottish life and society across ten centuries.

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11 The Third Marquess of Bute and the Supernatural (Rosemary Hannah)

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ROSEMARY HANNAH

11 The Third Marquess of Bute and the Supernatural

ABSTRACT

A lifelong thanatophobe, one motivation behind the third Marquess of Bute’s interest in the supernatural was reconciling himself to the deaths of those he had loved. Before he was thirteen, he had lost both parents, whose deaths plunged him into horribly painful circumstances. His initial curiosity about the supernatural dates to this time. He was encouraged by the general Victorian interest in the subject, widely explored in séances and ghost-hunting expeditions. Bute reconciled his interest in supernatural phenomena with his devout Catholicism and belief in the Christian Heaven by insisting, again in line with many contemporaries, that his interests were investigative and essentially scientific. He funded an enquiry into second sight in the Highlands and Islands, and engaged in many experiments with crystal gazing and thought transference. Yet for much of his life, death remained a matter of horror. Just days after his doctors told him that he was terminally ill, the almost certainly fraudulent Ada Goodrich Freer (who knew nothing of his diagnosis) alleged she had seen the ghost of his former romantic attachment, Marie Fox. She succeeded where his church had failed in robbing death of its horrors for him.

This paper must start with a ghost story. Here is Miss X sitting alone in the dark in the ruined cathedral at St Andrews in 1895. In the morning, she had wondered if she...

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