The paranoia for witchcraft in Edinburgh
In the late Middle Ages some people were prosecuted in Scotland for harm done through witchcraft, which led to the passing of the Witchcraft Act in 1563 and those consulting witches or practicing witchcraft would be accused of capital crimes. The North Berwick Witch trials were the first major series of trials under the new act.
They began in 1589 and James VI played an important role as he considered himself a victim and investigator. When James VI came back from Denmark there was a big storm in the middle of the sea, unnatural, according to James. The King was very interested in witchcraft and wrote a treaty on witchcraft in 1597 called Daemonologie.
Between the late 16th and 18th centuries more than 4,000 people were accused of witchcraft in Scotland and around 1,500 of them were executed, being Lowland women most of the victims. The English and Scottish parliaments merged in 1707 and the new British parliament repealed the 1563 Act in 1736.
Find out more stories like this one with the historical map in Timeline Trip Edinburgh