Witch Hunt [Radio Scotland]

Episodes

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Abuses of Justice20191107
Abuses of Justice2019110720200106 (RS)

The witchcraft trials were one of the biggest injustices in Scotland’s history, a massive miscarriage of justice, but even 16th century people sometimes thought they had gone too far. Our top-notch panel of Scottish historians are here to dig deep into them, along with our hosts Susan Morrison and Louise Yeoman. This week we look at some of the worst abuses of the witch-hunting period and King James VI is to blame again.

In 1597, matters became worse for innocent Scots accused of witchcraft. A woman called Margaret Aitken was arrested, but kept herself alive by falsely identifying others as witches. Dubbed 'The Great Witch of Balwearie’ she was carried about witch-hunting, pointing out suspects across Scotland. And then there was that experiment with the English witch-detection method of swimming a witch… When Margaret’s fraudulent witch-detecting was exposed in Glasgow, there was the most enormous scandal and cover-up that reached up to the King himself.

James went on to become King of England where he was very sceptical about some witch-cases - but not before he'd done a lot of harm.

Whistleblowers and fake witch-hunters in Glasgow as the King\u2019s war on Satan continues

Exploring Scotland's war on witches and witchcraft with Susan Morrison and Louise Yeoman.

Friends Of The Fairies20191114
Friends of the Fairies2019111420200107 (RS)

The witchcraft trials were one of the biggest injustices in Scotland’s history, a massive miscarriage of justice, but how did people come to believe in such a thing and what did they believe about it? Our panel of Scottish historians are here to take you deep into the psyche of the 16th and 17th centuries, along with our hosts Susan Morrison and Louise Yeoman.

This time we find out about beliefs in fairies, spirit guides, charms and ritual objects. While the elite believed in the witches’ sabbath and the demonic pact, it wasn’t necessarily the case that ordinary people did. Efforts to make ordinary people confess to witchcraft led to them telling all kinds of interesting stories. People accused of witchcraft meet the dead, go into fairy hills, worry about being sent as sacrifices to Hell, hang out with the Queen and King of the fairies, deliver fairy children, lose their own… Often these people are healers and diviners - able to tell the future, to tell who is riding with the fairies, to cure cattle and people. But to the Kirk, what they are up to is suspicious and can lead to a witch-trial.

Scotland's war on witches, Satan & even fairies. Meet the healers and their spirit guides.

Exploring Scotland's war on witches and witchcraft with Susan Morrison and Louise Yeoman.

Peak Witch Hunt20191128
Peak Witch Hunt2019112820200109 (RS)

Scotland carried out five times more executions per capita for witchcraft than the European average but how did people come to believe in such a thing and what did they believe about it? Our top-notch panel of Scottish historians are here to take you deep into the psyche of the 16th and 17th century, along with our hosts Susan Morrison and Louise Yeoman.

This time - how do we get to peak witch-hunt? The civil wars and political upsets of the mid-17th century led to a swell of Scottish pride in being one of the Godliest societies on earth, ruled by an ancient royal dynasty. They also saw the two biggest witch-hunts in Scottish history. Witch-hunting on such a scale was partly fuelled by the rise of the professional witch-finder - the witch-pricker, but it also contained the seeds of its own demise as the dodgy methods of the witch-finders and the local communities who employed them came to the ears of increasingly sceptical men of law.

Scots were zealous, above-average witch-hunters - why? God and Royalty are in the frame.

Exploring Scotland's war on witches and witchcraft with Susan Morrison and Louise Yeoman.

Quarrels, Women and Bad Magic20191121
Quarrels, Women and Bad Magic2019112120200108 (RS)

The witchcraft trials were one of the biggest injustices in Scotland’s history, a massive miscarriage of justice, but how did people come to believe in such a thing and what did they believe about it? Our panel of Scottish historians are here to take you deep into the psyche of the 17th century, along with our hosts Susan Morrison and Louise Yeoman.

This time - why were witches accused? Why were witches usually women? We begin with the power of the witch's curse and how people genuinely feared it. Curses came from quarrels, and women were seen to be the main users of words rather than physical violence to settle their scores. In the 17th century people had stereotyped views about women that they too easily become loud mouthed, over-sexed, vengeful and prey to the Devil - just the people you needed to crack down on to get right with God.

Why were so many accused witches women and why did people believe their words had power?

Exploring Scotland's war on witches and witchcraft with Susan Morrison and Louise Yeoman.

Satan's Last Hurrah! Demonic possession and the end of the hunt.20191205
Satan's Last Hurrah! Demonic possession and the end of the hunt.2019120520200110 (RS)

The witchcraft trials were one of the biggest injustices in Scotland’s history, a massive miscarriage of justice, but how did people come to believe in such a thing and how did they come to stop believing? Our top-notch panel of Scottish historians are here to take you deep into the psyche of the 16th-18th centuries, along with our hosts Susan Morrison and Louise Yeoman.

This time - Satan’s last hurrah. After the huge witch-hunt of 1661-1662, the Scottish legal establishment became a lot less keen on hunting witches - they didn’t see how you could get reliable evidence, but in 1696-7 something new appeared: Demonic possession. In Renfrewshire a young girl called Christian Shaw claimed to be possessed and tormented by the servants of Satan. On the basis of her claims men and women were executed. She wasn’t the only demoniac - and here allegedly was evidence you could see for yourself. What would the Scottish authorities do now, and how did they finally give up on witch-hunting?

Demonic possession and science - Scotland's war on witches takes a final terrifying twist.

Exploring Scotland's war on witches and witchcraft with Susan Morrison and Louise Yeoman.

The King and the Witches' Sabbath20191031
The King and the Witches' Sabbath2019103120200105 (RS)

The witchcraft trials were one of the biggest injustices in Scotland’s history, a massive miscarriage of justice, but how did people come to believe in such a thing? Our top-notch panel of Scottish historians are here to take you deep into the psyche of the 16th century, along with our hosts Susan Morrison and Louise Yeoman.

This time we explore the North Berwick witch trials. The witches' sabbath came to Scotland sometime in the 16th century, but it was royal approval that made it fashionable to believe. King James VI believed that witches met at a sabbath in North Berwick Kirk gaining powers from the Devil to sink his and his new wife’s ships and to assassinate him. We look at the dreadful consequences of these beliefs with historians Dr Mikki Brock, Professor Julian Goodare, Dr Lizanne Henderson and others, while cognitive psychologist Dr Faye Skelton explores how torture and harsh interrogation led people to confess to imaginary crimes.

James VI's war on witchcraft starts with the North Berwick trials.

Exploring Scotland's war on witches and witchcraft with Susan Morrison and Louise Yeoman.