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Modern Mysteries

Lawyer seeks to pardon 2,500 Scottish witches

By T.K. Randall
September 13, 2020 · Comment icon 7 comments

Suspected witches were persecuted for centuries. Image Credit:
Over 300 years ago, thousands of Scots were burnt at the stake because they were believed to be witches.
Back in 1563, the newly established Scottish Witchcraft Act stipulated that those who practised witchcraft or who consulted with witches should be put to death.

It was extended some years later to include "consultation with Devils and familiar spirits."

The act, which mirrored similar legislation in England and elsewhere, saw thousands of people - mostly women - accused of witchcraft without fair trial or recourse.

The typical punishment for those convicted was torture followed by burning to death at the stake.
Now though, more than 300 years after the act was repealed, a new campaign has been launched which aims to pardon all those who were found guilty and sentenced to death.

"There should be an acknowledgement that what happened to these women was a terrible miscarriage of justice," said campaign founder Claire Mitchell QC.

It has been pointed out that in Salem, where a series of infamous witch trials led to multiple convictions and executions, a formal apology was made all the way back in 1957.

In Scotland however, there has been no such recognition.

"In Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh, there are monuments to all sorts of men on horseback, and even a full-size statue of a named bear," said Mitchell.

"But there is nothing to commemorate the hundreds, if not thousands, who died as a result of one of the most horrible miscarriages of justice in Scottish history."

Source: The Guardian | Comments (7)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by keithisco 4 years ago
James 1st took a particular delight as the "Royal Witchfinder" and Scotland pursued a policy of burning at the stake. Oddly, this form of execution was almost unheard of in England where Hanging was the preferred option.
Comment icon #2 Posted by razman 4 years ago
Honestly , What the hell good does pardoning them do, its already far too late.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Orphalesion 4 years ago
Eh, the Puritans were rather burn-happy too. And across Europa enough witches were persecuted and burnt in protestant areas. In fact witch craft was a convenient thing the followers of Catholicism and the various Protestant movements could accuse each other of. 
Comment icon #4 Posted by Festina 4 years ago
Protestants as well. It seems the trials, tortures, burnings and hangings of innocent citizens for the most part were all part of a Holy War between the two Christian rivals ; Catholics and Protestants.   And.....there was “money to be made” as both sides confiscated the property of the accused and divided up the “spoils of war”  amongst themselves. This practice still occurs albeit it wears a coat of a different color.  What a world we live in.   The book is a history on the subject, not a “how to” book.  It’s useful on the subject —  albeit poorly titled.  
Comment icon #5 Posted by Festina 4 years ago
Yes.  The Catholics, by their own admission were mostly responsible.  
Comment icon #6 Posted by Jon the frog 4 years ago
Probably that the lawyers involved was in desperate need of attention....
Comment icon #7 Posted by Festina 4 years ago
The Catholics were into burning as punishment.  Thousands of Cathars and Giordano Bruno were victims of this method.  But it was the jews who did it before the Catholics as it listed in  613 Mitzvahs under “administering justice” as a method of punishment along with stoning, suffocation and decapitation by the sword. 545 The courts must carry out the death penalty of stoning Deut. 22:24 546 The courts must carry out the death penalty of burning Lev. 20:14 547 The courts must carry out the death penalty of the sword Ex... [More]

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