Page last updated at 16:17 GMT, Monday, 7 July 2008 17:17 UK

Charming tales of bewitched cows

Highland cow
Witchcraft was thought to have the power to protect cattle from harm

The Highland practice of using witchcraft to protect or harm cattle during the 17th and 18th Centuries is to be discussed in a lecture.

Called Charmed Cows and Contentious Neighbours, it is one of four being hosted by Inverness-based educational institute UHI later this month.

It will be given by Dr Karen Cullen, programme leader of UHI's undergraduate honours Scottish history degree.

Other lectures will look at the Vikings and Scots in Russia and Poland.

Dr Cullen said: "I will be talking about low-level or everyday witchcraft and superstition, focusing on the extent to which magic was employed to safeguard cattle.

"Cows were a particularly precious commodity in upland regions, and tensions broke out between neighbours when black magic was suspected to have played a role in harming the animals."

Dr Cullen's lecture will be followed by Prof Paul Dukes on Scots in Russia, Dr David Worthington on Scots in early modern Poland and archaeologist Prof Chris Morris on the Vikings and their relationship with Christians in Britain and the North Atlantic region.

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