The Witchcraft Trials in North Ayrshire

We are delighted to announce the addition of a wonderful piece of individual research relating to the whole of North Ayrshire has been added to the ‘Stories’ section of our website.

The Witchcraft Trials in North Ayrshire‘ is the latest submission to NA Heritage by regular contributor Heather Upfield. This well-researched piece incudes details of the victims of the witchcraft trials in North Ayrshire and gives a fascinating insight into who was accused, how they were tortured and tried, and how this dark period in Scottish history came to an end.

“No other country in Europe responded to this threat with greater gusto than Scotland, where it is estimated that around 4,000 individuals (80% of them women), were accused of witchcraft and/or consorting with the devil.”

– Heather Upfield

The article discusses the origins of Scotland’s witchcraft trials, from Mary Queen of Scots Witchcraft Act of 1563 to the publishing of ‘Daemonology’ by James VI in 1597 before delving into the local impact of the trials in North Ayrshire. Included is a database of those who were accused in North Ayrshire in the 16th and 17th centuries.

“North Ayrshire did not escape the purge, and the first known victim was Bessie Dunlop of Dalry, who was sent to Edinburgh for trial and executed on Castle Hill in Edinburgh in 1576. After her, the records show that between 1649 and 1683, eighty-five women and six men from North Ayrshire were accused of witchcraft, arrested and tried.”

Heather Upfield

Heather has truly outdone herself with this piece of research and we are very grateful to her that she has permitted us to host it permanently on our website. If you have any interest in the witchcraft trials, or Scottish history in general, then we highly suggest you give it a read.