Tuesday, September 24, 2019

The Witches of Scotland

The University of Edinburgh has released a series of interactive maps visualizing the nearly 4,000 women and men accused of being witches in Scotland from the 16th to 18th centuries. The Witchcraft Act was in force in Scotland between 1563 and 1735. Under the Witchcraft Act the practice of witchcraft and the act of consulting with witches could be punished by death. It is not known exactly how many women and men were executed for being witches but the Survey of Scottish Witches estimates that around two-thirds were killed. About 84% of those accused of witchcraft in Scotland were women.

The University of Edinburgh's Witches project includes a number of different maps of the Survey of Scottish Witches data. The Residences with Timeline map is among the most interesting of the maps in the project, as it allows you to explore the data using a number of different filters. Using these filters you can view the location of only females or only males accused of witchcraft, you can explore the numbers accused by social class or by occupation. You can also explore the numbers of people accused of witchcraft during any selected date range.

Obviously an interactive map means that you can also explore the numbers of people accused of witchcraft by location. According to the Survey of Scottish Witches around 32% of those accused were accused in the Lothian region of Scotland. The Survey of Scottish Witches says that the Scottish population during this period was more evenly distributed than it is today. Therefore the numbers of people living in Scotland's central belt who were accused of witchcraft is very striking.

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