History festival probes Scots Game of Thrones links

Scotland’s influence on the world-famous Game of Thrones franchise will be among the highlights of an eclectic celebration of all things history.
Rose Leslie in Game of Thrones. Picture: submittedRose Leslie in Game of Thrones. Picture: submitted
Rose Leslie in Game of Thrones. Picture: submitted

Now in its fifth year, the Previously festival is more “compact” than before but promises a range of interesting talks and plays.

The event will run in the Capital between November 18 and 22, offering insights into everything from Vikings to unicorns.

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And although the multi-million pound fantasy blockbuster Game of Thrones has been reported to be inspired by the War of the Roses south of the border, one talk will shed light on its Scottish parallels.

Fans of the books and TV series are encouraged to dress up as their favourite characters to add to the fun of the talk, which will be led by enthusiast David Weinczok.

He believes those who live “Beyond the Wall” in Game of Thrones – tribes who describe themselves as “free folk” – are based on Scots.

The festival programme also offers tours of Warriston and Dean cemeteries, an introduction to hieroglyphs, a spotlight on witch persecution in Scotland, and an insight into Edinburgh’s underground vaults.

The majority of the talks and plays will be held at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, and The Stand Comedy Club.

Previously’s new patron, renowned history academic Professor Tom Devine, will come under the spotlight in a question and answer session, while in another event Dr Lesley Orr will reveal little-known facts about the “women who widnae haud ther wheesht” in the fight for equality.

Annie Harrower-Gray will also present three centuries of turbulent Scottish history from a female perspective, ranging from bodysnatching women Helen Torrance and Jean Lapiq, to the Capital’s ladies of the night.

Or for something completely different, the mythical unicorn will be the focus of a talk by Elyse Waters.

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The event will delve into claims that the single-horned creature, resembling a white horse, was believed to be a real animal for more than 4000 years.

Another alternative take on history is Phil Differ’s play MacBraveheart, which promises to offer some biting satire at Scotland’s expense.

And Blackwells bookshop on South Bridge will play host to a free talk by authors Millie Gray and Andrew Nicolls, who will explain the challenges of writing historic fiction.

Ms Gray’s latest novel Silver Linings is set in 1940s Leith, while Mr Nicolls creates a crime scene in Broughty Ferry just before the First World War.

Festival director and Evening News columnist Susan Morrison said the main aim of the festival was to make history accessible to everyone.

She said: “I think history should have the same kind of shop window as a science festival. We are committed to fundraising to become a bigger event, keeping the costs low and accessible. We want to bring history out from behind the walls of the universities.

“We are all completely defined by history yet for some reason people think it’s a boring thing.”

To buy tickets visit www.historyfest.co.uk.