A couple of miles from the town of Forres in Moray is a mound known as Macbeth’s Hillock. Local folklore tells us that this is where Macbeth met with the three witches from the play.
‘By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.’
So pronounces the second witch in Macbeth, Act 4, scene 1.
The Three Witches
The theme of the three witches is echoed in more folklore from the surrounding area. There are two stones in Forres that are both associated with them.
The Sueno’s Stone
This is a 9th-10th century Picto-Scottish stone depicting an ancient battle (I like to think it’s Mons Graupius as featured in SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, but this is very unlikely given how long ago that battle took place). The stone is 6.5 metres tall and also lays claim, in local legend, to be situated where Macbeth met the witches. They are said to have been captured inside the stone, and should it ever be broken, they will be released.
The Witches Stone
A rather more gruesome stone, and story, sits outside the police station on the main road in Forres. It has become a small shrine.
There were originally meant to be have been three stones marking the final resting places of three women who were executed for witchcraft. The one remaining stone is held together with a piece of metal.
More Witch Stones
Three Witches in The Mermaid and the Bear
There’s just something about ‘three witches’. I chose to write about three real women who were accused of witchcraft in 1597 in my debut novel, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR. I spent a year researching all the various aspects of the history. You can read about the general, and sometimes obsessive and bizarre, research in my article Researching Historical Fiction: Immersing Oneself in the Past on the Women Writers site. There’s some witchy research here, some stolen castle bits here and the search for a villain in this monstrous post.
The Mermaid and the Bear is a story of triumph over evil, hope through adversity, faith in humankind and – above all – love.
From the Press and Journal: New book by Fraserburgh author highlights horrific extent of witch trials in Scotland
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