Beliefs and practices in health and disease from the Maclagan Manuscripts (1892–1903)
The Maclagan Manuscripts (1892–1903) are derived from transcriptions of an extensive range of oral traditional narratives collected from a large number of named loci throughout the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, but principally from Argyllshire and the Inner Hebrides. They are named after Dr R. C. Maclagan (1839– 1919), an Edinburgh doctor, who began the collection at the instigation of the British Folklore Society and continued to supervise the collectors’ work till its completion. From the multifarious number of subjects included in the manuscripts, the chosen topic of the thesis was selected for detailed research and examination because of the recorded accounts of diseases, illnesses and treatments experienced by patients and their families within the framework of traditional healing beliefs and practices derived from a distinctive Celtic ethnographic culture. The main objectives within the selected methodology of the thesis were, firstly, to present a comprehensive description of the nature of holistic beliefs and practices associated with healing named diseases; secondly, to interpret the named diseases and the likelihood of success or failure of treatment in relation to the presumed underlying causation. Finally, it was considered important to set the experiential suffering of illness and diseases against the contextual background of daily life cycle of beliefs and communal daily living as found in the manuscripts. I am confident that the first two stated objectives of the thesis have been achieved within the limits of the oral narratives; the attempt to meet the requirements of the final phase of research, while complete within the defined set limits, has clearly shown that the manuscripts, in their entirety, represent an extensive original resource of oral traditions from the Highlands and Islands which have as yet not been researched in detail (Mac-an- Tuairnear 2007). Completion of this thesis was facilitated by the formation of a Microsoft Access database inclusive of all the manuscript key subjects- samples of which can be found in the Appendix.