AN AMERICAN campaigner has pledged to raise £20,000 to commemorate witches tortured and killed by vengeful mobs more than 300 years ago.
Stephanie Creech – herself a descendant of a Scottish cardinal, took action after a local community council decided not to finance the first official witch memorial in Scotland.
The Fife village of Pittenweem, where some of the most savage witch huntings took place, decided not to go forward with the memorial after a local vote saw the community divided in opinion.
This woodcutting shows a Scottish witch-hunt in progress.
At least 26 “witches” were tortured and 18 of them killed in the picturesque fishing village in the early 18th Century.
The council’s decision caused mass disappointment for local campaigners, and Ms Creech decided to help raise the funding.
Ms Creech is a descendant of St Andrew’s Cardinal David Beaton, who was murdered by a baying mob in1546.
The catholic cardinal was murdered by protestants, who stabbed him before dangling his dead corpse from a balcony to the blood-thirsty crowd below.
The American campaigner said it was “poetically just” that she was taking a role in the Pittenweem memorial campaign.
She said: “This campaign is about raising a public awareness and to get finance to back the monument. We have started a Facebook campaign and momentum is really growing. I have spoken to various Caledonian societies in America, as well as the regional press.
“I was very intrigued when I first read Leonard Low’s book the Weem Witch and I have been a great supporter of his memorial.
“I feel it is almost ironic that a descendant of Cardinal Beaton is helping with the campaign and in a way I feel it is poetically just. Of course I have an interest because of who my ancestors were, but it is also a no brainer – I’m very surprised that the people of Fife haven’t supported this memorial.
“It is a wonderful opportunity for the town to commemorate the people that suffered.”
Mr Low, author of the Weem Witch, who has spearheaded the campaign, said his bid to erect the monument was gaining momentum.
Low, whose family have lived for generations in Pittenweem, had proposed the memorial be built at the village’s West Brae, in memory of 26 local victims who was falsely accused of witchcraft.
During the witch trials at Pittenweem, sixteen of the accused were burnt at the stake, and one died during torture.
The most notorious witch killing was that of Janet Cornfoot.
Sir Sean Connery’s ancestors were reportedly among the lynch mob that tortured and killed her in 1705.
After she was accused of witchcraft, Cornfoot was swung from a rope, stoned, and then crushed under a heavy door piled high with boulders.
To make quite certain she was dead, a horse and cart was repeatedly driven over her body and her remains buried in the area called West Braes.
Mr Low said: “It was a disappointment when the community council decided not to go forward with the memorial, but we are feeling positive now and will try to raise £20,000 privately.
“There has been a lot of interest in the memorial from around the world and I have recently started a charity for the Weem Witch, which I hope will help to raise funds.
“I am so grateful for all of Stephanie’s help with the memorial.”