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Talk from award-winning Highland author to shine light on history of witchcraft trials

By Niall Harkiss

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AN award-winning Highland author aims to shine a light on to one of Scotland’s darkest periods, with talks about the Scottish witchcraft trials during Book Week Scotland.

Author Philip Paris at the "Witch's Stone" in Dornoch.
Author Philip Paris at the "Witch's Stone" in Dornoch.

Philip Paris, best known for his books about Orkney’s famous Italian chapel, will be speaking at libraries in Tain, Dingwall, Dornoch and Inverness.

The Highlands is home to the "Witch's Stone", a memorial erected in memory of the last known execution of a 'witch' in Scotland, in Dornoch.

Janet Horne, who is now thought to have been showing signs of senile dementia, was arrested, jailed and then burned to death in 1727.

Mr Paris said: "The Scottish witchcraft trials in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries were the result of one of the most extraordinary and fascinating eras of social history.

"Around 2500 people were believed to have been executed for witchcraft in Scotland during this time. Per head of population, you were five times more likely to be accused of this crime here than in England or the rest of Europe.

"Why this was, why women made up some 85 per cent of those accused and how ordinary people going about their daily lives could find themselves facing a death sentence are just some of the areas to be discussed.

"I’ll also be examining a few common misconceptions that are often regarded as fact, and whether we can learn from the trials as regards attitudes we hold today."

The one-hour talk is free to attend and does not require booking.

Details of the times and venues are:

Monday November 14 – Tain library 3pm

Tuesday November 15 – Dornoch library 3pm

Wednesday November 16 – Dingwall library 2pm

Thursday November 17 – Inverness library 2.30pm

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