The year of history, heritage and archaeology has provided a range of exciting events and activities during 2017, celebrating our traditional music, our storytelling, our world-renowned historic collections and our heroes. The year has been very well received, but a full evaluation of its success will be carried out. There are no plans to mark the Scottish witch trials during the remainder of the year, but we recognise the significance of that episode in Scottish history.
I note that 2017 marks the 420th anniversary of the great witch hunt of Scotland. The minister will be aware of the calls for memorials to be erected to mark the deaths of the thousands of women who were brutally tortured and murdered during the Scottish witch trials. Does he agree that the current lack of recognition is representative of a wider dearth of visible monuments to Scotland’s women? Does he support the efforts of those who are striving to raise awareness of that significant period in Scotland’s history?
Although we do not maintain a register of existing statues and memorials, it is fair to say that women are almost certainly underrepresented in those that we have. Historic Environment Scotland runs a commemorative plaque scheme to celebrate the achievements of figures in our history, and I am particularly pleased to note that half of this year’s successful nominations were for women.
Although it is certainly not up to me to make decisions, curatorial or otherwise, about what exhibitions are held, it is fair and reasonable for us all to recognise the tragedy that took place at that point in our history and to recognise any attempt to commemorate it throughout Scotland.