a collage of black and white images of small index card drawers
Here in the The School of Scottish Studies Archives we have tales classified under the ATU index, as well as tales grouped together under story types, such as Robber Tales, Historical Tradition; Romance Tales; Hero Tales and Legends.

There are also indexes of tales which are classified under “Supernatural Witch” and “Supernatural Fairies” which were part of the work of Alan Bruford (1937-1995) to survey the Central Index and pull together material of “recurrent plots and motifs from the tangled mass of Scottish, and especially Gaelic, local traditions of supernatural and historical events” [Bruford, 1967].

Open drawer of an index card collection

There isn’t a great deal written on the ongoing work of these type-lists, but it is clear that Bruford continued to work on this until his death. Donald Archie MacDonald (1929-1999) published a broader paper on the type-lists in 1995 and I link to that at the end.

Here are just a few examples:

W1 – The Witch Hare


W7 a – The Witch’s Daughter and her Father

W31 – The Three Knots

F24 – Fiddler Enlisted To Play for Fairy Dancers

This story is available to listen to via Tobar an Dualchais: https://www.tobarandualchais.co.uk/track/71713


F103A – A Fairy Song Overheard or Learned

Available via the University’s OpenBooks platform* : https://openbooks.is.ed.ac.uk/  (pp27-28))


F118 – Fairy Helps with Clothworking

Available via the Univeristy’s OpenBook Platform*: https://openbooks.is.ed.ac.uk//record/121767 (pp 40 -41)


Further Information

Bruford, Alan 1967, ‘Scottish Gaelic Witch Stories:  A Provisional Type-list’, Scottish Studies (volume 11), pp 12-47

MacDonald, Donald Archie 1994-1195. ‘ Migratory Legends of the Supernatural in Scotland: A General Survey’, Béaloideas (62/63), pp 29-78 https://www.jstor.org/stable/20522441


*The Maclagan Mss is in the process of being added to the University of Edinburgh’s OpenBooks platform as an open access resource. This is a work in progress but the pdf batches so far can be accessed here: https://edin.ac/3UdzSSz