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Monthly Archive March 2019

Orkney Witchcraft Trials Memorial: Inauguration Day – Saturday 9th March 2019

You are all warmly invited to join us at our inauguration day events to unveil the memorial to the historic victims of the witchcraft trials, an Orkney Heritage Society project.
(For more details on the project see here.)


All events are free of charge and open to all – although you may wish to exercise your own judgement as to whether they are suitable for young children or those of a nervous disposition (unlike our earlier creative day, the inauguration day has not been designed to be specifically family-friendly and some of the details of the trials are harrowing to listen to).

Our event starts at The Hub at King Street Halls, Kirkwall at 10am (this is our ‘base’ for the day). We will be treated to an excerpt from George Mackay Brown’s play ‘Witch’ by the St Magnus Players, Ashleigh Angus will read her award winning short story, and Kate Fletcher and Corwen Broch will teach us their song which was written at our creative day back in October.
For a sneak preview of these songs and stories see our Witchcraft Memorial Resources page.

We then walk to St Magnus Cathedral for a reflective memorial service in St Rognvald’s chapel, with more music, starting about 11:30am. This ‘service’ is designed to be contemplative and accessible for people of all faiths and none.

About 12:15pm, we will gather together outside the west end of St Magnus Cathedral, before making our own way along Victoria Street and up Clay Loan to Gallow Ha’. This is a reflective walk along the route that the condemned may have taken – public shaming was an intrinsic part of the execution of those accused, and this would have meant the victims having to walk past their friends and neighbours to their deaths.

There will be some people driving directly from the cathedral to Gallow Ha’ up Palace Road, so please do ask if you might need a lift.

About 12:45pm, we should arrive at Gallow Ha’ at the top of Clay Loan for our unveiling of the memorial. We will ask for volunteer readers and we will finish by singing together the song taught to us earlier by Kate and Corwen, Chase The Cold Winter Away Again, this ritual is designed to be accessible for those of all faiths and none. Please note that we are specifically not looking for acts of contrition nor to place blame, but rather to consider how we might as individuals ensure that such injustice does not happen again.

After a short break for lunch, we meet again at the Hub at King Street Halls at 2pm, for an afternoon of academic lectures about the historic witchcraft trials.

We will finish by 5.00pm. In true Orkney tradition, we will be selling raffle tickets throughout the day and drawing the raffle about 4:45pm – our main prize is a bottle of Highland Park ‘Full Volume’ whisky kindly donated by the distillery themselves.

Whilst at the Hub, in the morning and afternoon, complimentary teas, coffees, and biscuits will be provided, but please make your own arrangements for lunch – you are welcome to bring your own food and eat at the Hub.

We do hope many of you will be able to come along. You don’t have to come for all of it, just the parts which are of interest to you.

We are inviting donations to the project or prizes for the raffle. Here are some of the prizes already donated: