History - Legend of Brahan Seer

6th November 2009 at 00:00

New light has been cast on a legendary Scottish seer, said to have foretold events from the Battle of Culloden to the Piper Alpha disaster.

Aberdeen University teaching fellow Alex Sutherland has investigated the Brahan Seer by examining previously-ignored records. Popular accounts suggest the Seer was Coinneach Odhar, who lived around the middle of the 17th century, but Dr Sutherland has written a book pointing to events in and around Easter Ross, toward the end of the 16th century.

This undermines the popular belief that the seer was put to the stake, or burned in a barrel of tar, by the Countess of Seaforth after he informed her that her husband was unfaithful.

"The Brahan Seer is an important figure in Scottish Highland culture and society and is central to our understanding of the practice and prosecution of witchcraft, and the perennial belief in prophesy as a means of predicting events," Dr Sutherland said.

The Brahan Seer: The Making of a Legend has been shortlisted for the Katharine Briggs Folklore Award. The winner is announced on Tuesday.

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