We are all aware that Witchcraft was very real in the early Centuries in England, Women were either drowned or burnt to the stake after being accused of being a Witch, the funny thing was (not for them of course) if they died they were “innocent” if they survived after being dunked they were Witches? Obviously a very real and terrifying ordeal for everyone around that period. It got to the stage that if one person did not like the other they were reported as being a Witch and were subjected to these bazaar tortures so it must have been pretty awful worrying if you were going to be next!
Surprising to me it happened in Scotland and here are my discoveries on Witchcraft in Scotland.
Between 1479 and 1722 more than 4000 men and women were burnt as Witches in Scotland, of that number 300 were executed on Castlehill in Edinburgh, during the reign of James IV of Scotland. In this period Witchcraft was evident all over the World it seemed like an epidemic had happened and the World had to be rid of those people, it culminated from religious reformation worldwide. In 1640 The Scott’s Assembly warned Ministers to be careful of people being “charmed” and taken in.
People were accused of being under the “Devils spell” willingly while satisfying their own wicked ways. Identified trying to establish if the individual made a pact with the devil. As always the people accused were poor, disliked, and never received a fair trial, (what’s new).
Witch Hunters were employed to “rake out the witches” to be subjected to the tortures which lay ahead. Torture was used in Scotland, however, unlike the English, the authorities in Scotland accepted a confession under torture, (tell me who wouldn’t have admitted it under that pain?)
One way of identifying if they were witches as if they had the devils mark, usually moles, scars or other skin blemishes all humans have on their body, there were supposedly made by the devil’s teeth? Pins were used by the Witchfinder, if the blemishes produced no pain after being pricked or did not bleed, then they were the devil’s mark! The Witch Hunters were paid on commission so needless to say many people innocent or not were murdered for them to gain money.
In the late 1700s an elderly lady who was eccentric was tried for being a witch in Edinburgh, very near to were Princess Street Gardens are now, this formed part of the defences for Edinburgh in the early 1400′ this old lady would be found muttering to herself, and acting strange around people, therefore, someone in their wisdom thought she must be a witch! She was trussed up my toes and fingers, dunked into the loch and as I said earlier if she drowned she was innocent? If she floated she was guilty? Air pockets in her gown made her float to the top of the Loch hence it was discovered she was indeed a witch? She was carried back up to Edinburgh Castle, strangled then burnt to the stake as so many people before her?
After a few years when only the poor were deemed witches it climbed the higher classes, then Royalty was involved, in 1590 the Berwick witches story included sorcery, politics and treason.
When the Bailee of Tranent accused a female servant of witchcraft it all kicked off, he personally tortured her with thumbscrews after it was discovered she had the “devils mark” naturally the pain made her confess however she implicated many others, amongst the accused, were a doctor, a Lords daughter, a teacher and a midwife. Also, implicated were Royal claims to the throne, he was arrested put into prison but managed to escape, only to be caught again. Tortured he still did not admit to being a witch and claimed his innocence throughout his ordeal., this was put down to heavy influence by the devil himself.
Burning on the stake the Teacher still professed his innocence. All the people implicated were put to death regardless of innocence being proved. Finally, here are some cases involved in Witchcraft recorded in literature, this ended around the mid-1800s
Burnt to the stake in 1600 for making people ill???
Tried for witchcraft in 1756 accused of having a meeting with a man who died 29 years previous?
Accused in 1608 of meeting the devil and casting a spell on a farmer’s crops? Can you imagine, what would happen nowadays? Blemishes on the skin means u are in league with the devil, LOL I’m having plastic surgery, it goes to show, Humans, are fearful of the paranormal and in the above cases it went to the extreme.