Sunday, 28 October 2012

The Witches Maze At Tullibole Castle Crook of Devon


The Witches Maze At Tullibole Castle Crook of Devon

 
 

This week  my  eye  caught the  newspaper article and the BBC News story on the opening of the “ Witches Maze “ at Tullibole Castle in the Crook of Devon . Quite an appropriate “blog “ as Halloween approaches  complete with witches , black cats , turnip lanterns and the inevitable guysers !

Tullibole Castle
 
Lord Moncrieff and Lesley Riddoch (  who used to live in Fowlis Wester )at the opening
 
 

The memorial however is a somewhat sad reflection on the evil and indeed  bizarre behaviour of our ancestors and in particular our  Established  Church . These pillars of society undertook a spate of trials  which on reflection  make the Salem Witch Trials across the “ Pond “ resemble a Sunday school picnic ! The Witches Maze at Tullibole Castle commemorates the victims of the Crook of Devon witch trials in 1662.

The castle was once home to William Halliday and his son John who held court over the 'covens' in the village. Lord Moncrieff, who now owns Tullibole, commissioned the maze as there is no memorial in Crook of Devon.

In 1662 the court sat five times and resulted in the death of 11 suspected witches. Those who survived the trials were taken to a small mound near the current village hall and strangled by the common hangman and their bodies thrown on a fire.

Victims remembered

Lord Moncreiff commenced on the maze in 2003. The finished memorial is a circle 33m (100ft) wide and consists of 2,000 beach trees.
 
At the centre of the maze is a one and a half ton elaborate sandstone pillar, with the names of the victims etched on it. The five sided pillar was created by Gillian Forbes, a stone carver from Path of Condie.

Lord Moncreiff said: "I dislike public art that has nothing to say and commissioned Gillian because I believe she understands the sensitivity of the task. "It is my hope that the memorial will also question our understanding of the past and issues of blame and judgement in modern day society."

Background

In 1899 ,the Auchterarder author AG Reid wrote in his ” Annals of Auchterarder and Memorials of Strathearn “ , the following : “ the Reformers after the Reformation  decided  to dissipate darkness and remove superstition – the Presbyter  of the New Church considered it his duty to expiscate  and clear out  even to the cleansing  by fire rumoured delinquencies  in the exercise of  magical arts . In Scotland this feeling was intensified in the Reformed Church by the Act of Queen Mary , 4th June 1563 to purge the country of diabolical influences , It seems however , not to have  been called much into requisition  until after the return of James Vl from his matrimonial  expedition to Denmark  in 1591 . The revelation of unholy practices  against the Lord’s anointed in the course of that memorable  voyage  , and after his return , threw the timorous  King into a state of terror  and inspired him  with the desire , as a sovereign prince , to exterminate the practisers of that of devilish arts  from his dominion .Not only  did he encourage  prosecutions  but he wrote  a  book  to prove the reality of the crime the credibility  of  which had been impugned by the catholic Weir .From 1591  to the death of King James in 1625, thirty five trials  for witch craft  appear  in the Justiciary records  and from that date down to 1640  only eight trials  are recorded . From 1640  to 1660  there were thirty trials   although under the Commonwealth  the judges  generally discouraged  such prosecutions .

After the Restoration  the prosecution for witch craft  greatly increased and in the year immediately following  1661 not fewer than twenty persons  were condemned  to death  for witch craft  before the High Court of Justiciary and in addition instead of the cases  being brought before the ordinary criminal courts , Circuit and Justiciary , commissions  were also granted by the Privy Council to understanding  gentlemen , empowering them  to deal with the cases of reputed  witch craft  occurring  in the special localities with which they were connected . On one single day – the 7th November  1661 – not less than fourteen commissions  were granted and during the first eight months  of the following year  fifty additional commissions , each of them containing  from one  to ten names of reputed witches . The reports of these commissions  have not  been preserved but the recorded  executions  alone  during  1662  are stated  at not less than one hundred and  fifty in number “

The Accused – The Innocent Victims

Agnes Murrie, Trial 1


On the first of these trials Agnes Murrie, Bessie Henderson, and Isabella Rutherford were condemned, and strangled and burnt on the following day.

Bessie Henderson, Trial 1

 

On the first of these trials Agnes Murrie, Bessie Henderson, and Isabella Rutherford were condemned, and strangled and burnt on the following day.

Isabella Rutherford Trial 1


On the first of these trials Agnes Murrie, Bessie Henderson, and Isabella Rutherford were condemned, and strangled and burnt on the following day.

 

Agnes Pittendriech, Trial 2


Only one escaped, which she owed to being pregnant at the time of her trial, and being respited under an obligation to come up again for trial when required. As there is no record of any ulterior proceedings being taken against her, it is to be hoped that her respite resulted in their ultimate withdrawal

 

Margaret Hoggan Trial 2


In the case of Margaret Hoggan no conviction or sentence against her is recorded, although the evidence against her was equally strong as against the other panels ; .but in the dittay against her she is described as a woman of threescore and nineteen years, and she may have been either spared on account of her old age, or she may have died in the excitement and terror in the course of her trial. She is referred to as deceased at the next diet of Court, which took place two months afterwards.

Robert Wilson, Trial 2


On the second trial Robert Wilson, Bessie Neil, Margaret Lister, Janet Paton, and Agnes Brugh were found guilty and sentenced to be burnt on the following day,

Bessie Neil, Trial 2


On the second trial Robert Wilson, Bessie Neil, Margaret Lister, Janet Paton, and Agnes Brugh were found guilty and sentenced to be burnt on the following day,

 

Margaret Lister, Trial 2


On the second trial Robert Wilson, Bessie Neil, Margaret Lister, Janet Paton, and Agnes Brugh were found guilty and sentenced to be burnt on the following day,

Janet Paton, of Crook of Devon Trial 2


On the second occasion Robert Wilson, Bessie Neil, Margaret Lister, Janet Paton, and

 

Margaret Hoggan Trial 3


At the third diet, Margaret Hoggan and Janet Paton were brought to trial. There is no conviction against Margaret Hoggan ; but Janet Paton was sentenced and strangled and burnt the same day.

Janet Paton, of Kilduff Trial 3


At the third diet, Margaret Hoggan and Janet Paton were brought to trial. As before stated, there is no conviction against Margaret Hoggan ; but Janet Paton was sentenced and strangled and burnt the same day.

Janet Brugh Trial 4


Janet Brugh and Christian Grieve. The former was convicted and executed the same day,

Christian Grieve Trial 4 and 5


Christian Grieve was put to her trial in July, 1662, and although the evidence against her appears to have been strong, the "hail assize in one voice declare that they will not convict her in no point of witchcraft, nor clenze her in no point," and yet within a period of three months the same jury, under the same presiding judge, and apparently without any additional evidence, convicted her, and she was strangled and burnt on the fifth day thereafter.

 

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