Scottish Witchcraft trials

By: GreenWitchAdmin
Posted: 8th March 2019

Me in Salem...wait for the rant…

I recently returned from a trip to Salem, a place where I really thought as a witch I should visit, but was more than a little disappointed to find that the world knows about the Salem Witch trails yet not a witch in sight…that Witchcraft was merely a scapegoat to things going wrong, and just 22 people died! It was more fear of the Devil in their staunch Puritan Christian community, yet the town attracts thousands to honour them and buy tourist tatt!

Here is Scotland, there were 5 main Witch hunts…1590-91, 1597, 1628-31, 1649-50 and 1661-62., led by the ‘Kirk’ party. Responsible for finding witches and ‘pricking’ them for the Devil’s mark, ‘Witch-prickers ’were Ministers of the church, their Bible stating “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live”! The most famous locals were Rev Allan Logan of Torryburn and Rev Walter Bruce of Inverkeithing in Fife! In 1649, there were over 300 executed just in Fife, Edinburgh and Borders! These men of the church stripped, pricked and tortured women into confession and were paid 20 shillings per guilty witch…nice!! The guilty women were then either drowned or hanged then burned, but a favourite in Scotland was the barrel. After days or months of torture, they were dressed in a rough hemp coat, rolled in tar, put in a barrel and burned! They may have not always recorded the poor women’s name but the bill was always recorded and charged to the family or community in £,s,d…here’s one example from Kirkcaldy… and to put it in proportion, the average labourer would earn about £15 per year

Barrel 14s Coal             £3,6s,8d Rope 6s,        Hemp coat 3s,6d,         to make coat 8s, 

Executioner expenses 16s,4d,  Executioner for their pains £8,6s

On my travels, I found a concrete marker in a private area of land in Dornoch. My nose made me follow the story and discovered this was a marker for the last witch burned in a tar barrel…Janet Horne in 1727. In the “Lowlands’ of Scotland, there were estimated 4000+ trials and at least 2500 executions including 12 in Aberdour, 7 from Burntisland and over 45 in nearby Inverkeithing, mostly women, certainly not all witches, but included Catholics, widows, healers, and anybody practising local ‘folk’ magick, & those not following the staunch Presbyterian ways! That is a lot in a population of around 650,000!! Time this gobby, outspoken witch, who overcame her minor skirmishes with the Church and Council, did something to mark these tragic events! It was only my trip to Salem that brought back how bad things were here in Scotland, yet this grim history remains largely unacknowledged.

What I CAN do…

I used to display a list of the names of those witches killed in Aberdour during the Witch trials for all to see, and for me to acknowledge those who sacrificed their lives so I had the freedom to do what I do. It is time to bring back & acknowledge all those who lost their lives in the name of Witchcraft. For those who became victim and died due to the cruelty of the time, we will have an Altar of Light. I also want to begin a cauldron memorial. A Gaelic Cairn blessing “Cuiridh ma clach air du charn” means “I will put a stone on your stone”. Scotland was Europe’s biggest persecutor of witches, yet these Scots have no stone, no mark for respect, no grave for flowers and I think it is time they bloody well did!! When climbing a mountain in Scotland, you take a stone from the bottom and place it at the top. Let’s start a ‘Cairn in a Cauldron’ (well, just till we can get a site for it). Bring a stone to add to our cauldron & light a candle. I think our Waste to Woodland scheme has just found its purpose…!! OH YES!!

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