Dowager is a title given to a widow who has inherited property from her deceased husband.
Peebles is a town in the Scottish Borders situated on the edge of the River Tweed. It lies approximately 23 miles south of Edinburgh.
The Grassmarket is a small market square in the middle of Edinburgh. In former days, it was used not only as a place for selling horses and cattle but also as a site of public executions. During the late 17th century, the Covenanters figured prominently amongst the condemned. These days it is given over to more cheerful forms of entertainment and is dominated by shops, bars and restaurants.
Whilst in real life, one is continually meeting with similarly-named people, this is a fact rarely acknowledged in literature. It is striking, therefore, that Mrs Calvert and Mrs Logan share the same Christian name. Perhaps Hogg intended this to illustrate the bond of sympathy between the two women, or to highlight the fact that their social position is equally forged by their sexual relations with men. It is also possible that there is a punning significance to the abbreviation ‘Bell’ for, in contrast to the pretended objectivity of the Editor, the women’s narratives have ‘the ring of truth’ about them. Whatever the intention, the shared name serves as another example of the doublings and mirrorings that occur throughout the novel.
This is the supreme criminal court in Scotland.
York is an ancient city in the north of England. During the 17th century, it was greatly damaged in the skirmishes of the civil wars, leading to the loss of its erstwhile status as a nationally significant fortress and military headquarters. However, it continued to grow as a social centre, aided by the wealth of its prominent gentry. By the time of Arabella Calvert’s abandonment there, York had become an important centre of commerce and leisure.
‘Lucky’ was a common appellation for tapsters at this time.
Men’s Highland dress at this time typically consisted of a leine (a large, flowing linen undershirt which came down to the knees); belted plaid (a tartan blanket fastened round the waist so as to fall in a series of pleats); a short woollen jacket and perhaps a sporran (a leather pouch worn about the waist). A Scots bonnet – a thick woollen affair in brown, blue, black or grey – completed the ensemble.
Bogle-heuch is either a local sobriquet or a place invented by Hogg, for it does not appear on maps. Its name, however, is an interesting one, with ‘heuch’ meaning steep-sided valley and ‘bogle’ meaning spectre or bogeyman. There could be no more apt place for the two women to witness the uncanny scene that follows.