Seeing Stories

Recovering Landscape Narrative in Urban and Rural Europe



Urban narratives

The research on urban narratives focuses on the city of Edinburgh, looking at sites of the Calton Hill (2013) and the Canongate (2014) – both located at the heart of Edinburgh's Old Town.

Situated only a few minutes walk from the Royal Mile, Calton Hill is certainly the most central and most iconic Edinburgh's hill. Established as a public park in 1725, it gradually became the host of a diversified assortment of monuments dedicated to science.

By digging in its history and folklore, the project shows that the hill has a lot of stories to tell. If on the one side it was the ground for celebrating the Enlightenment and its finest representatives, on the other side the 'Hill of Light' also witnessed the darkest sides of the human nature, becoming rather the hill of contrasts.

Edinburgh landscape narratives

Project outcomes.

Storytelling event "Seeing Stories: Calton Hill - Some Mad God's Dream?". Sunday 27th October 2013. Storywalks on the hill with several storytellers.
Publication of the storyguide "Calton Hill: Journeys & Evocations". Authors Stuart McHardy and Donald Smith.Exhibition "Calton Hill: Journeys & Evocations". Photographic exhibition by Stuart McHardy.
Storytelling event "Calton Hill Tales", Wednesday 12th February 2014. With Donald Smith and Stuart McHardy.

In the 2014 the research will be about the Canongate area. Sited in the very heart of Edinburgh's Royal Mile, between the Netherbow and the Palace of Holyrood House, the Canongate and its closes are rich with legends and stories.

Old corr - Skye

Rural narratives

The research on rural narratives looks South at the Scottish Borders and the Tweed valley. The landscape there is rich with stories, with the village of Earlston being the place where Thomas the Rhymer fell in love with the Fairy Queen, just to mention one of the most popular Scottish legends.

The area also deeply inspired the work of Scottish writers such as Sir Walter Scott and James Hogg.

Project outcomes.

Project Conference "Seeing Stories – Interpreting Landscape Narratives", Dryburgh Abbey Hotel and Scott's Abbotsford (Melrose). Tuesday 29th October 2013. Presentation of the Seeing Stories project and storytour to Earlston, Eildon Hills and Abbotsford.

On the theme of rural narratives, the project also takes the opportunity of nurturing the long term storytelling friendship with the Isle of Skye.

Situated in the North-West of Scotland, the "misty island" boasts a strong connection between Gaelic lore and landscapes. The work of storyteller and tradition bearer Seoras Macpherson has been essential for keeping family oral traditions and passing them on to the new generations.

For the last couple of years the cooperation with the George Seoras Macpherson resulted in storytelling bardic journeys from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye's remote valley of Glendale.

Project outcomes.

Storytelling journey Edinburgh - Isle of Skye (Glendale), 21st – 23rd June 2013.

Storytelling journey Edinburgh - Isle of Skye

In the 2014 the project will go on with the research of landscape narratives in the Scottish Borders and the Isle of Skye, resulting in more events and Storyguides.




Seeing Stories is ending as a project. But through the project we have met many individuals and organisations who want to share good practice and creative skills. So we are forming an international network called Stories in Place. The network is open to all those who through their work, art or volunteering wish to strengthen the connections between people and place through storytelling. Our aim is to further strengthen international friendship and collaboration.

If you would like to be part of Stories in Place please contact Donald Smith, Project Manager of Seeing Stories, and Director of the Scottish International Storytelling Festival, on