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New trail launched in bid to rehabilitate Macbeth

MOTORISTS will be able to follow a Macbeth trail when they drive around Scotland in a scheme to be launched tomorrow.

It is the brainchild of Alex Johnstone, a Conservative MSP, who is behind a move to rehabilitate the 11th century Scottish king.

Mr Johnstone has tabled a motion in Holyrood arguing the ruler's successful reign was misportrayed by William Shakespeare.

Mr Johnstone's campaign was sparked by the resurgence of interest this month in another of Shakespeare's villains, Richard III, after confirmation that remains found under a Leicester car park were those of the 15th century English monarch.

Details of the trail are to be unveiled in Glamis, Angus. In the play, Macbeth, a leading Scottish nobleman, has the title Thane of Glamis.

A website will outline the route around Scotland linking places mentioned in the play and which were significant to the real Macbeth.

Included in the places to visit will be Glamis, Lumphanan, a village in Aberdeenshire where Macbeth was killed in battle in 1047, and Cairn O'Mount, Aberdeenshire, where Macbeth took his supporters en route to Lumphanan.

Mr Johnstone, who represents the north-east, said he hoped the scheme would provide a boost to Scottish tourism and raise awareness about this period of Scottish history.

He said: "It's all about putting a broader package to the foreign visitor.

"There's many a man will come to Scotland to play golf, and maybe his wife wants something cultural.

"Geographically, as many of the locations are so far spread, going round the trail would fit in well with golfing or the whisky trail.

"But apart from boosting tourism I would also hope the Macbeth trail would put some facts behind the myths about Macbeth and get people to identify with that part of Scotland's history on the ground.

"Many people don't realise that Macbeth existed."

Macbeth, whose stronghold was in Morayshire, was born in 1005 and reigned from 1040 to 1057.

Dr Fiona Watson, a honorary research fellow at Dundee University and author of Macbeth, A True Story, backed the campaign, and said Macbeth's rule was in many respects progressive for the time.

Alan Cumming is among the latest to play Macbeth. His one-man show premiered in The Tramway in Glasgow last June.

Orson Welles, Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Antony Sher are among other leading actors to have played Macbeth.

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