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Boundaries of the Fairy Realm in Scotland

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Chapter Summary

This chapter concentrates on folk beliefs. Folk beliefs, however, are to be sought in elite sources, the study of which entails some consideration of elite beliefs for methodological reasons. Members of the elite, who did not usually believe in fairies, sometimes assumed that the beings under consideration were angels, demons, or ghosts, in which they did believe. Their recording of evidence from popular culture was indirect and even inadvertent, and as a result, the boundaries of the fairy realm were partially obscured. With careful analysis, it should be possible to reconstruct some of these boundaries, and to place fairies more precisely in the early modern cosmos. But one of the arguments of the chapter will be that the boundaries of the fairy realm were, in important respects, indeterminate. The chapter describes some of the insights to the historical evidence from early modern Scotland.

Keywords:elite beliefs; fairy realm; folk belief; Scotland



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