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Women accused of witchcraft commemorated at Fife heritage trail launch

One of the plaques.
One of the plaques.

Thousands of women executed after being accused of witchcraft were remembered at a special event in Fife at the weekend.

Three plaques were placed on the Fife Coastal Path to commemorate the accused women of Culross, Torryburn and Valleyfield.

There was also a special celebration in memory of Lilias Adie, known as the Torryburn Witch, who confessed to having sex with the devil in 1704.

She died in prison before her trial and was buried on the beach at Torryburn under a large slab to prevent her body rising from the grave.

She is thought to have been the only witch buried in Scotland, the others all having been hanged.

It is estimated 380 Fifers, most of them women, were accused of practising black magic between the 16th and 18th centuries and many were imprisoned, tortured, put on trial, hanged and then burned.

Across Scotland, around 5,000 women were accused.

The three speakers, Lindsey Marchant, Councillor Kate Stewart and Claire Mitchell QC outside the town hall, where the accused were kept.

A top lawyer leading a campaign to pardon the tortured women spoke at the event 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.

Claire Mitchell QC said there should be a national commemoration of those who had suffered.

“We don’t have a central point of saying we’re sorry for what we’ve done or recognising it, or acknowledging it in any way,” she said.

“I want a pardon for the women who had been convicted as witches, I want an apology for those that had been accused that never made it for whatever reason to trial, some of whom died while they were being tortured.

“And also a national memorial, some sort of national statue or something of the like where people understand and see what has happened in the past.”

The Fife trail was created by the West Fife Heritage Network, led by SNP councillor Kate Stewart, and unveiled during the ceremony on Culross village green.

 

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