Witch hunts in Scotland: after being hunted down and killed, the victims in the process of rehabilitation

“Between the 16th and 18th centuries in Scotland, around 4,000 people were accused of witchcraft. 84% were women,” says Claire Mitchell, a 50-year-old lawyer.

In total, more than 2,500 people were executed for witchcraft, mostly strangled and then burned, after confessions extracted under torture.

“They were kept from sleeping for days […] and they confessed that they were witches, danced with the devil or had sex with him”, she says in a cemetery in Dundee (in the northeast of the country) known as “The Howff” .

In this 16th century cemetery, swept by an icy wind, is a small stone column nicknamed “the stone of the witches”. Passers-by left flower petals and coins there, in homage to people executed for witchcraft, including Grissel Jaffray, who was strangled and burned in 1669. In a street in the city center, a mosaic representing a cone from which Escape from the Flames commemorates this woman known as ‘Dundee’s Last Witch’.

Unknown dramas

Claire Mitchell founded the Witches of Scotland association two years ago, on March 8, 2020, on the occasion of international women’s rights day, after discovering the extent of the impact of the Witchcraft Act. This law of 1563 provided for the death penalty for those guilty of witchcraft and was in force until 1736.

His association demands three things: the pardon of all those convicted of witchcraft, an official apology from the authorities, and a national monument to remember these little-known tragedies.

Zoe Venditozzi, 46, a member of the same association, says that until recently she knew “nothing” about these witch hunts, “although I was born in Fife, where there were a lot of executions” .

She discovered that “anyone could be accused”, people “generally ordinary, often poor, vulnerable, who could not defend themselves” or who were “perceived as weird or troublesome”.

At that time, “people believed very strongly in the devil,” she recalls, and “women tended to be blamed because they were seen as people who could be easily manipulated by the devil.”

“Acknowledge the horrors of our past”

She is also sensitive to this cause, a member of the SNP (independence party in power in Scotland), Natalie Don, intends soon to table a bill in the Scottish parliament to obtain the pardon of all those convicted of witchcraft.

“In several countries, people are still accused and sentenced for having practiced witchcraft. Scotland should lead the way in acknowledging the horrors of our past and ensuring that these people do not go down in history as criminals. It will also send a strong message internationally to show that these practices are not acceptable, ”argues the MP.

Scotland was particularly affected by these witch hunts.

We can’t change the past but we can learn from the past.”

Julian Goodare, professor of history emeritus at the University of Edinburgh, oversaw the creation of a database to identify them.

Comparing the 2,500 people executed for this reason in Scotland to the 2 million inhabitants at the time, he underlines that this is a ratio “five times higher than the average in Europe”.

This historian points out that these were executions following trials during which “evidence” was provided: confessions or statements from neighbors claiming that the suspect had “bewitched” them, he explains on the Esplanade of Edinburgh Castle, where these executions were staged in full view.

The “witch hunt” was the work of the State, of an elite convinced that “the devil was trying to do all possible harm and that witches were his allies”.

We would like to thank the writer of this post for this amazing web content

Witch hunts in Scotland: after being hunted down and killed, the victims in the process of rehabilitation

Check out our social media profiles and other pages related to it.https://nimblespirit.com/related-pages/