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Resources

Researching the witch trials can offer an immersive and profoundly rewarding experience. Taking the time to uncover and document the stories of individuals who endured such horrific treatment serves to keep their memories alive and ensures remembrance of the injustices of the past, from which we must learn. However, this pursuit can also be quite frustrating due to the scarcity of available information.

The lack of documentation can be attributed to various factors. Often, those accused of witchcraft were regarded with utter disdain and were deemed unworthy of having their details recorded. This is evident in numerous cases where it is mentioned that other individuals were involved, yet their names were omitted. Subsequent writings refer to the accused using terms like 'wretched creatures', which is hardly befitting for innocent people who fell victim to authoritative cruelty. Additionally, many of the early records were maintained by small parishes and were not compiled centrally. Documents have been lost or destroyed over the centuries due to conflicts, disasters, or mishaps during transportation.

Below, I have compiled a list of valuable resources to initiate your search. For each resource, I have included a brief description along with links, enabling you to access the information firsthand. It is important to note that by providing these links, I am not endorsing the websites or verifying the credibility of any sellers in cases where purchases are required. Exercise your own judgment when exploring these resources. In addition to the resources below, your local church, council archivist and local heritage groups will be able to help.  

All of these resources have been used in preparing this website. 

The Survey of Scottish Witchcraft

Undoubtedly, one of the primary resources to commence your exploration is the Survey of Scottish Witchcraft. This database is the culmination of a two-year project aimed at assembling information on all known cases of individuals accused of witchcraft between 1563 and 1736. Even if the available information is limited to just a name and location, it has been meticulously collected. You can initiate your search by the name of the accused (many people begin by searching their own surnames to ascertain any ancestral connections to accusations). Furthermore, you can refine your search by area and/or year, enabling you to narrow down your findings based on specific criteria. It is important to acknowledge that the database is not exhaustive; additional trials have been unearthed since its launch. Regrettably, updating the database presently is not feasible; nevertheless, it remains arguably the most comprehensive online repository accessible. You can access the database HERE

Interactive Map

The Interactive Map emerged as a subsequent development to the Survey of Scottish Witchcraft and proves immensely beneficial for location-based searches. This map enables you to zoom in on specific regions, towns, or villages, providing an overview of the number of cases associated with your chosen area. The option to click on names to access supplementary information is available. Since it draws from the Survey Database, it should not be considered an exhaustive compilation. Nonetheless, it holds a substantial amount of data and serves as an invaluable resource. You can access the interactive map HERE

A Calendar of Cases of Witchcraft in Scotland 1510 to 1727

Penned in 1938 by George F. Black, a Scottish historian who eventually headed the New York Public Library after migrating to America, this book serves as a useful compilation guide to numerous trials. However, information about each case might be relatively limited. Available on Amazon HERE

A Source-Book of Scottish Witchcraft

Published in 1977, this book was built upon George F. Black's work and provides considerably more comprehensive information about the trials, along with categorizing the various courts where the trials were held. Despite its substantial size, the book features a well-organized index, making searches effortless. Available on Amazon HERE

Scottish Kirk Sessions

Numerous surviving Kirk Records are now accessible online. These documents furnish details about witch trials as recorded during that era. Various sources, including the National Records of Scotland offer access to these records which can be sourced HERE. Internet searches will lead you to other sites providing access as well as some services may charge.

Old Scots Dictionary

Perusing the session records mentioned earlier will swiftly reveal that deciphering archaic Scots language is no simple task. An 'About' section on this site offers a guide to common words used during the trials. For a more comprehensive search, several online dictionaries like the one provided by Dictionaries of the Scots Language can be of assistance and sourced HERE.

Historic Maps

Reference to historical maps can prove immensely valuable in locating precise areas. Over time, some place names have changed or even disappeared, and maps can assist in pinpointing specific locations, including execution sites. Numerous platforms offer historic maps; personally, I find the National Library of Scotland's interface convenient, allowing for overlaying current maps onto older ones. These can be sourced HERE

More resources will be added over time and as they become available so please check back for updates.

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