The Scottish International Storytelling Festival is about to launch a campaign called ‘Dig Where You Stand’.

It is being done in partnership with the Dig It 2015 events, which is a year-long promotion of archaeology and the stories it reveals.

However, from September 1 to November 30, the Scottish International Storytelling Festival wants people to go out on a different kind of dig – they are calling on people “to unearth a treasure-trove of stories and legends in their community or local area”.

It’s an idea close to my heart. I don’t write this page to be the expert on the tales and legends of East Lothian, because I’m not. The experts are people with memories of their community, people who know the landscape, who’ve lived and experienced it. Our county is woven by memories, tales and stories which have been told over generations, or perhaps even created more recently.

The Dig Where You Stand campaign is an opportunity for schools, community groups and individuals to gather what they know and craft it into a legend or tale that can be shared.

I would like East Lothian to be known as the County of Legends and Tales. I have written over 200 stories for this page over the last three and a half years. Some have been well known legends or folk tales, others have been memories of its people; some have been historical tales, others a handed-down oral tradition. But it has been the response from readers which has kept me going. Your knowledge, experiences and memories are the true “treasure trove of stories and legends”.

Many people say to me that they don’t share their knowledge because they think no one would be interested, or that it’s just a saying that can’t be proven.

If telling a historical tale, I always try to maintain accurate reference to any historical records, but where written and oral traditions collide then I always enjoy the mixture. For the fact is that history itself cannot claim to be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The echoes of voices ignored and overlooked by the rich and powerful who wrote history can still be heard in traditional tales. So let’s not dismiss their importance.

For example, if your grandmother told you a story she had been told by her grandmother, would you say to her, “no granny that didn’t happen because there is no written record of it in a book or newspaper”? No, you wouldn’t. You would treasure it as a special family inheritance, it would be your insight into the past, or an understanding of why the landscape is the way it is.

And so if you have any story, any snippet of memory, either your own memories or memories shared by another person, then you can be part of the Dig It campaign.

But you may have come across a story or legend almost by accident. Perhaps you have stumbled upon an old book or pamphlet in which a brief comment is made about a standing stone, or a kirkyard. Perhaps you have been told something about an old ruin in your area, or maybe there is just a vague but well-known tradition which hints at a legend or tale.

For example, such local traditions can explain the origin of a field’s name, or an explanation for an unusual landscape feature. And these local traditions aren’t usually proven, yet remain strongly believed in the area and passed down with comments such as “people say that that stone is where a piper vanished... a witch is supposed to have been caught there... that house is said to be haunted by the ghost of the servant”.

Often these local legends lack detail, but are rooted in a specific location. People in your area will have grown up with it. The origin of the legend will likely be lost, but perhaps the function of it is still obvious. And it doesn’t matter if it is not provable or even if it contradicts historical versions. History will always stand on its own veracity, local tradition is the spice that adds mystique.

And so my call to the people of East Lothian is to rise to the challenge that the Scottish International Storytelling Festival has set. The Scottish International Storytelling Festival would like you to share these tales and legends, these traditions, sayings and memories.

But perhaps you are not sure how to craft your tale, how to put meat on the bones of your legend. That is where the services of storytellers come in. The Scottish Storytelling Centre have a range of storytellers who can help you dig up local legends and then bring them to life!

You can check the website of the Scottish Storytelling Centre to get more information and tips on finding legends and how to craft them into a tale.

I also will be encouraging schools, community groups and families to get involved with the Dig It campaign, as will many other storytellers in East Lothian. I really hope that if you are reading this you will consider getting in touch. My email is at the bottom of the article and my phone number is 07898 267139.