WITCH HUNT: The Great Scottish Witchcraft Trials of 1697 by Isabel Adam

WITCH HUNT: The Great Scottish Witchcraft Trials of 1697

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For over 200 pages, this is an unquestioning eye-witness account of the ""bewitchment"" of Christian Shaw, the ten-year-old daughter of a petty Scottish noble, and the trial of her alleged tormentors. Its primary source is a pamphlet written by two of the concerned parties, Francis Grant, one of the Crown prosecutors, and John McGilchrist, Christian's uncle (also a lawyer) and keeper of a journal which was a complete record of her ""illness"" (confirmed by witnesses to each incident). Adam has also examined the public records of the trial and various other documents to verify the Grant-McGiichrist pamphlet's story. The result is a graphic case study of a bewitched individual from a contemporary perspective: Christian spits out hair balls, pins, animal bones, and other inexplicable objects; she is covered with bitemarks and scratches when no one has been near her. The collection of witches is, predictably, made up largely of vagrants--social outcasts. But the author, whose bibliography indicates a familiarity with the literature on 17th-century witchcraft, does little to place the story in a historical context. Not until the last chapter, moreover, does she ask, ""What, in today's terms, really happened?"" and venture a psychological explanation. Those beguiled by witch, craft are better served here than students or scholars.

Pub Date: Feb. 21st, 1978
Publisher: St. Martin's