Posthumous pardon for Scotland’s witches secured

Posthumous pardon for Scotland’s witches secured

Claire Mitchell QC

The 4,000 people accused and executed for witchcraft in Scotland are to receive a posthumous pardon after the Scottish government lent its support to the move.

Claire Mitchell QC leads Witches of Scotland, which has campaigned for a pardon, a government apology and an official monument for the victims.

She had the idea for a monument while walking in Princes Street Gardens, which has very few statues of women.

“Per capita, during the period between the 16th to the 18th century, we executed five times as many people as elsewhere in Europe, the vast majority of them women,” she said.

“To put that into perspective, in Salem 300 people were accused and 19 people were executed. We absolutely excelled at finding women to burn in Scotland. Those executed weren’t guilty, so they should be acquitted.”

Natalie Don, an SNP MSP behind the bill to effect a pardon, said: “It is right that this wrong should be righted, that these people who were criminalised, mostly women, should be pardoned.”

She added: “This is an issue that does have a resonance in the modern day: by righting this wrong it can have an impact in challenging gendered and patriarchal attitudes in society.”

In February this year, Andrew Stevenson gave a contrasting opinion on the issue in SLN.

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