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The second reason you might be here is that you've stumbled across a link in a recommendation and are wondering what on earth this is all about. Simply put, this is the history podcast on all things magical, where we examine notable beliefs in witchcraft or the supernatural, and how these beliefs sometimes let to bloodshed. Fun stuff! If you want to know more, click 'About' at the top of the page!

Aug 2, 2017

The North Berwick Witch Hunt was one of the deadliest witch trials in British history, spawned from one interrogation and implicating people from every strata of society; the poor, the wealthy, peasants, nobles, farmers, and teachers. It led to around seventy executions, and was the backdrop of multiple rebellions, religious schism, and a military intervention by the English. And yet James the Sixth emerged afterwards with a unified country, his most powerful rivals subjugated or exiled, and in a prime position to inherit the throne of England.


This episode primarily made use of the following texts:


  • Newes From Scotland London, 1591
  • Lawrence Normand, Witchcraft in Early Modern Scotland: James VI's Demonology and the North Berwick Witches, Exeter, 2000
  • Victoria Carr, 'The Countess of Angus's Escape from the North Berwick Witch-Hunt', in Julian Goodare (ed.) Scottish Witches and Witch-Hunters, Basingstoke, 2013
  • Alan Stewart, The Cradle King: A Life of James VI and I, London, 2003
  • Julian Gooare, The Government of Scotland 1560-1625, Oxford, 2004

For a full show bibliography, please see the website.