Actors consider it bad luck to say his name. But a Scottish MSP (Member of the Scottish Parliament) hopes that a new tourist trail dedicated to Macbeth will boost the fortunes of Scotland’s tourist industry.
Alex Johnstone, who represents Northeast Scotland, plans to devise a route for motorists in the region that will be dedicated to Shakespeare’s infamous villain.
Mr Johnstone told the Herald Scotland: ‘Many people do not realise that Macbeth existed.
‘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.’
Information about the trail will be made available through leaflets and signage, along with QR barcodes (which reveal facts when scanned using a smartphone).
The proposed trail is expected to include sites such as Lumphanan, a village in Aberdeenshire where Macbeth was killed in battle in 1057, and Cairn O’Mount where he took his supporters en route to his defeat.
Famous sites such as Glamis in Angus, where Macbeth died in Shakespeare’s famous play, are also likely to be included.
Other proposed sites include Spynie castle in Pitgaveny- where the battle between Duncan and Macbeth took place – and Dunsinane, the hill fort in the hills above Perth, where Macbeth fought a battle with Earl Siward of Northumberland.
Mr Johnstone said that, as many of the locations are spread out, the trail would fit in well with golfing holidays or trips that included the region’s whisky distilleries.
Macbeth was born in 1005 and reigned as a Scottish king between 1040 and 1057. Shakespeare’s play was written around 550 years after the king’s death.
Mr Johnstone said that his reign had been “characterised by paranoia and murder” by Shakespeare, but that the real King Macbeth enjoyed a comparatively long reign and his throne was secure enough to allow him to make a pilgrimage to Rome.
Following the discovery of Richard III’s remains under a car park in Leicester, the MSP tabled a motion in the Scottish parliament calling for a review of Macbeth’s reign.
‘The discovery of what are believed to be the remains of Richard III has sparked fierce debate about the nature of his reign, especially because of his portrayal by Shakespeare,’ he said.
Mr Johnstone said that he wanted Macbeth to be ‘iconic on the basis of facts rather than fiction’ and said that learning about Macbeth by reading Shakespeare was ‘like suggesting people should learn about medieval Scottish history by watching Braveheart.’
A spokesman for VisitScotland says: ‘The potential for trails, tours, events and information in areas associated with this Scottish King, famously immortalised by Shakespeare, is considerable.
‘Visitors from across the world would, I’m sure, be interested to find out more about the real Macbeth – the man behind the character.
‘History, heritage and ancestry are key themes of Scottish tourism with the latter contributing over £100m to the Scottish economy. Anything that can help contribute further is to this is great news for Scotland.’