Suspected witches were persecuted for centuries. Image Credit: sxc.hu
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Now though, more than 300 years after the act was repealed, a new campaign has been launched which aims to pardon all those who were found guilty and sentenced to death.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 (10)
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