A top lawyer leading a campaign to pardon those accused of witchcraft has backed a campaign for a memorial in Fife.
Claire Mitchell QC is behind Witches of Scotland, a campaign for justice for those who suffered under the Witchcraft Act from 1563 to 1736.
She has been invited to speak in Culross on Saturday, when a heritage trail commemorating local women accused and tortured under the Act, will be unveiled.
The event is being organised by the Remembering the Accused Witches of Scotland (RAWS) group, who would like to see a national memorial established in west Fife to acknowledge the injustices of the witch trials.
Ms Mitchell said: “I would be happy for a memorial anywhere in Scotland but there is a particular resonance with Fife because so many people along the Fife coast were executed as witches.”
Although few records were kept of witch trials, it is estimated around 3,800 people were accused of witchcraft across Scotland, of whom around 2,500 were executed.
Men were also persecuted under the Act but 84% of those accused were women.
An estimated 380 Fifers were accused of witchcraft. One of them, Lilias Adie, died while awaiting trial after being tortured. She was laid to rest at the shore in Torryburn.
As well as supporting the call for a national memorial, Ms Mitchell wants a pardon for those convicted and an apology for those who never made it to trial.
“Some witches died while they were being tortured. One of the witches who will be talked about on Saturday is one of the people who was accused as a witch but never convicted and that was Lilias Adie.
“She fell into that category for people who should have not only a pardon but also an apology.”
As a lawyer involved in contemporary miscarriages of justice, Ms Mitchell was inspired to take on the cause after a walk in Edinburgh, where she noticed statutes tended to depict men, while the many women executed at the former Nor Loch – now Princes Street Gardens – merely have a small plaque.
She said: “It’s not a condemnation of it or even an apology. Its just an explanation that here was where witches were burned.”
In Salem, Massachusetts, there is a memorial garden to the 15 women and four men who were sentenced to death in the US city’s famous witch trials.
“All of them received pardons.
“It has been acknowledged that these people were wrongly tried, wrongly convicted and sentenced to death. I just think that Scotland needs to acknowledge that this has happened and also remember those people it’s happened to.”
“It changed Scottish history. There are families that never were as a result of this.”