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Cannibal butcher from Perth and other horror stories to be revived at Scone Palace frightfest

The Spirit of Scone event will be held
The Spirit of Scone event will be held

Real life horror tales from bygone Perthshire will be aired at a Halloween spectacular next month.

Scone Palace is preparing to launch a spine-tingling special effects show featuring an illuminated tour of the grounds, graveyard and a ghoulish maze.

It follows the success of last year’s event, which was launched with the help of the creative team behind Pitlochry’s Enchanted Forest and attracted nearly 3,000 visitors.

A Perth-based theatre group is busy researching some of the area’s most gruesome stories and characters for this year’s show.

Ad-Lib Theatre Arts has been digging into tales of a cannibal butcher and a witch for inspiration.

Christie Cleek was a butcher in Perth during the 14th Century.

According to folklore, Cleek – real name Andrew Christie – joined a group of scavengers in the foothills of the Grampians during a period of severe famine.

When one of his companions died of starvation, Cleek used his culinary skills to serve him up as a tasty treat for the rest of the group.

And after developing a tasty for human flesh, the scavanagers, under Cleek’s leadership, began ambushing passing travellers. Cleek was known to haul his victims from horseback using a hook or “cleke”.

The group was eventually defeated by soldiers from Perth, but Cleek is said to have survived and quietly slipped back into society under a new name.

Another inspiration for this year’s show is Bessie Wright, a healer from Scone who was investigated for witchcraft in the 17th century.

Bessie, who claimed to use a 1,000-year-old medical book to cure sick locals, was at the centre of a 1626 probe into “unacceptable healing rituals”. She was eventually ordered to stop offering healing advice within the burgh of Perth.

However, she ignored the order and was jailed two years later.

Vicky Glennie, events manager with Ad-Lib Theatre Arts, said: “We’ve taken inspiration from folklore across Scotland and adapted them.

“We’ll be taking scary stories and giving them a local twist to create a host of scary Spirits of Scone. Together with the gothic surroundings of Scone Palace, it promises to be a fright night in the extreme.”

Heather McArthur, events manager at Scone Palace added: “Luckily for our producers and actors, we have the best setting possible for Halloween frights. Scone Palace lends itself to being a real-life horrorscape, and we’ll have characters and stories to keep everyone on tenterhooks.”

The event runs for six nights from Tuesday, October 26. Organisers say it is not suitable for children under eight.

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