Reckoned to be one of the greatest narrative poems in the language, Burns wrote 'Tam O' Shanter' to accompany Captain Grose's drawing of Alloway Kirk in his collection 'Antiquities of Scotland'.
The themes and imagery which the poet deployed drew heavily on the folk-lore of witchcraft which he learned from his childhood nurse, Betty Davidson.
Alloway Kirk by D O Hill.
Contrasting views of 'Warlocks and witches in a dance' by 19th-century illustrators Monro Orr (above) and John Faed.
'Warlocks and witches in a dance;
Nae cotillion brent new frae France,
But hornpipes, jigs, strathspeys, and reels,
Put life and mettle in their heels.
A winnock-bunker in the east,
There sat auld Nick, in shape o' beast;
A towzie tyke, black, grim and large,
To gie them music was his charge:
He screw'd the pipes and gart them skirl,
Till roof and rafters a' did dirl.'