Apology for Scotland’s Witchcraft Trials and an Anniversary

Apology for Scotland's Witchcraft Trials - sunrise


On International Women’s Day, 2022, the Scottish Government issued a formal apology for Scotland’s witchcraft trials. You can read more about it and watch the First Minister’s address to parliament here.

Apology for Scotland's Witchcraft Trials - chasing the sunrise
Chasing the sunrise…


On this day in 1597, Bessie Thom and Christen Michell were executed in Aberdeen, having been found guilty of witchcraft. I wrote about both women in THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, and remembered them today as I chased the sunrise round Strichen Lake.

The apology for Scotland's witchcraft trials - sunrise.

Maria Robertson reviewed the performance ‘Witch Hunt’ here, which took place in St Nicolas Kirk in Aberdeen. “It made me think of Ailish Sinclair’s first novel The Mermaid And The Bear as there are a couple of chapters in that based around the treatment of witches in the Mither Kirk back in the days of yore.”

Witch Hunt

And Nelliphant wrote about some Scottish books here, saying this of FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE: “The main character, a many-times-great-granddaughter of the Mermaid and the Bear, is an extremely feisty Doric-speaking young woman whom I liked very much…”

In other news (less dramatic and much less historic than an apology for Scotland’s Witchcraft Trials) the new book is now with the editor. So, progress towards publication is being made. And, apparently, I can now chase sunrises round lakes so health progress is happening too.

There were some lovely spring flowers planted along the path through the woods. They seemed like wreaths to me, today. Purple and white. Beautiful and sombre.

Apology for Scotland's Witchcraft Trials - flowers
For Bessie, Christen and Isobell, and all those persecuted as witches.


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My Books

Sisters at the Edge of the World cover

Set in 1st century Scotland, my latest novel, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, includes the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes. The book features a neurodivergent main character and some rather complicated romance!

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

“Ethereal and spellbinding….” Historical Novel Society

Read the article Roman Aberdeenshire features in author’s new book from Grampian Online.

Cover of Ailish Sinclair's 'The Mermaid and the Bear'

Taking place mainly in a fictional castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR blends an often overlooked period of history, the Scottish witchcraft accusations, in particular the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, with a love story.

See the press release here

Amazon UK

Amazon Worldwide

From the Press and Journal: New book by Fraserburgh author highlights horrific extent of witch trials in Scotland 

Fireflies and Chocolate by Ailish Sinclair, out 2021

FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the kidnapped children and young people of Aberdeen. The story follows the adventures of Elizabeth Manteith from the castle and her determined efforts to get back home. There’s love. There’s derring-dos on the high seas… And there’s chocolate!

See the publisher’s Press Release here

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Amazon Worldwide

Review from the Historical Novel Society

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29 Replies to “Apology for Scotland’s Witchcraft Trials and an Anniversary”

  1. I have been listening to the Witches of Scotland podcast recently, I am so pleased that the campaign for an apology was successful.

  2. More beautiful pictures of Scotland. I look forward to the new book, sure to be a treasure trove of well crafted words to give image to a time long gone in a place faraway.

  3. Wow, historic indeed. Interesting that they would take that stand all these years later. I love that you remembered those pained and literally tortured souls with the flowers on your walk. How wonderful to have the health to walk again at sunrise. May it continue to improve for you!

  4. W lovingly crafted post, Ailish. Good news about the apology, your health improving, the reviews and your new book being with the editor. The spring flowers are beautiful. <3

  5. Good for you, and good for Scotland then. The last book I read, which is a little more than tangentially related, was a book by Margaret Alice Murray called “The Witch Cult in Western Europe.” If you can suss out Middle English, there are plenty of Scottish accounts cited inasmuch as trials having been apologised for. I’ll echo another commenter and say it would be interesting to see New England do likewise: both Massachusetts and Maine where I live had their own activities. Although the trials were conducted in Massachusetts where the Superior Courts were, Maine had murmurings and self-executed acts against “witches.” One of my ancestresses survived an almost comically retarded witch hunt, which killed her husband, nearly her son, and led to the death of an admittedly evil neighbour.

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