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Orkney Witchcraft Trials Memorial

Orkney’s new memorial to the historic victims of the Orkney witch-trials is being installed in Kirkwall.  The new memorial comprises an inscribed stone at the old execution site at Gallow Ha, at the top of the Clay Loan, Kirkwall, under which is a time capsule containing artwork made by Orkney people in memory of their fellow islanders who were persecuted and executed for witchcraft.

The memorial project has been led by the Orkney Heritage Society, with financial, practical and academic support from Orkney Islands Council, Orkney Builders, Orkney Library and Archive, and St Magnus Cathedral.

Nobody knows precisely how many people were tried for witchcraft in Orkney, as some records are lost, and some local investigations may not have kept records at all. The folklorist Ernest Marwick, a founding member of the Orkney Heritage Society, dedicated much scholarship to finding and studying the surviving court records from the Orkney witch trials. He reckons with around 70 accused. Edinburgh University’s Survey of Scottish Witchcraft found 72, out of a Scottish total of c. 3800.

Find out more about the history of witch trials in Orkney.

Further detail on the memorial project along with links to other resources and images and audio from recent community events including a Creative Day in October 2018 can be found here.