A brief history of witch hunting in Scotland

A brief history of witch hunting in Scotland

If you have read about the witch hunt in England, such as the actual cases of Pendle witches, don’t think for a second that Scotland was immune to the incident.

In fact in 1590–91, 1597, 1628–31, 1649–50 and 1661–62 there have been many witch trials in countries such as Lothian, Strathclyde and Murali. A total of 3,837 people are believed to have been officially accused of witchcraft and some 2,500 are believed to have committed 84%.

The late 1500s also saw the Scottish Reformation that established the Scottish Presbyterian Church, called the Kirk, a Protestant system that brought about radical changes in society.

Often compared to English purism, Scottish Presbyterianism enforced strict rules on art, architecture, education, and morality, while fighting against superstitious or trivial activities.

After the creation of the Reform Parliament in 1560, the Scottish Witchcraft Act of 1563 was passed, banning the practice of witchcraft altogether.

Meanwhile, King James VI, who ascended to the Scottish throne in only 13 months, after being forced to his mother, Mary, Queen of Scots. Baptized a Catholic, but raised by the Regent as a Protestant, he ruled Scotland from 1567 and after the death of Elizabeth I and the Union of Crowns in 1603, England and Ireland as well. James was keenly interested in witchcraft and its elimination, and with him began a difficult time for all those accused of witchcraft. It was he who questioned Gillis Duncan, accused a young woman of witchcraft and tortured, her story also appears in Outlander.

During his reign, many educated people began to question the witch trials, but not the king. In fact, being more and more convinced that he also became King of England, he decided to change the English laws to try and execute witches.

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Although sorcery was seen as heresy, very few doomed witches were placed at stake in Scotland. For the majority of those sentenced to death, they were strangled with a rope and then burned at the stake.

However, the discovery of the “Devil’s Mark” to anyone who may have compromised with the devil began in Scotland. It was the discovery of a body using pins to find a spot that was impure or numb, sometimes performed by “stinging” experts.

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