Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology (Scottish Witch Trials)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 9th November 2017.

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Photo of Ruth Maguire Ruth Maguire Scottish National Party

3. To ask the Scottish Government what it is doing to mark the Scottish witch trials during the year of history, heritage and archaeology 2017. (S5O-01407)

Photo of Alasdair Allan Alasdair Allan Scottish National Party

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.

Photo of Ruth Maguire Ruth Maguire Scottish National Party

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?

Photo of Alasdair Allan Alasdair Allan Scottish National Party

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.

Photo of Rachael Hamilton Rachael Hamilton Conservative

Although the Henry Wellcome library in London has digitised and made available online its witchcraft collection regarding the Scottish regions, will the minister join me in asking it to consider a Scottish tour of that material?

Photo of Alasdair Allan Alasdair Allan Scottish National Party

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.