Learn, Create, Reflect at Day of Events About the Victims of Orkney’s Witch Trials

Creating items for a time capsule which will go into the memorial to the victims of the Orkney Witch Trials is one of many activities on offer at a day of workshops and reflection on  Tuesday 30th October 2018.

The time capsule will be buried under the memorial to the  victims of the Orkney witch-trials at Gallow’ha, top of Clay Loan, Kirkwall, Orkney, a project being managed by Orkney Heritage Society.

You can read about the commemoration here: Remembering The Victims Executed for Witchcraft

The creative workshop day starts at 10am, in the MacGillivray Room, upstairs at the Orkney Library and Archive in Kirkwall and is suitable for all ages.

The organisers have chosen the date as it is the nearest date to All Hallows Eve that also falls within the school holidays – hopefully making the day accessible to families – under 16s must be accompanied by a parent/guardian/carer .

Hallow’een is also known as the festival of Samhain; it is traditionally the start of winter when witches are supposedly abroad and at their most powerful.

A spokesperson for the day said:

“Ragnhild Ljosland and Helen Woodsford-Dean will facilitate a day of creative and reflective activities around the whole concept of witch-trials.

“They will be assisted by many of Orkney’s talented writers, artists, musicians, and story-tellers who will perform or run participatory workshops. These will include: Sarah Jane Gibbon, Tom Muir, Sheena Graham George, Jeanne Bouza Rose, Amber Connolly, Marita Lück, and Corwen Broch.”

All the events are free and participants may join in for as much as they choose. Hot drinks and biscuits will be provided. There will also be a raffle.

Morning Events

  • Historical background information  sourced from material from the Orkney Archive plus recent archaeological finds.
  • Songs and story-telling.
  • A ‘witch-bottle’ donated by Andrew Appleby, will be filled and charged

Lunch (not provided)

Afternoon Events

  • Creative workshops
    • making music
    • story telling
    • writing
    • painting
    • printing
  • Visit to Orkney Museum to view relevant artefacts
  • Reflective time in St Magnus Cathedral

Early Evening

Guided ‘witchy walk’ through Victoria Street, Kirkwall, to the bottom of Clay Loan. This was the route which the condemned took to their deaths. Meet outside St Magnus Cathedral (west / main door) at 6pm.

A spokesperson for the organisers said:

“The focus of the day will be on making this creativity relevant to our contemporary society; we aim to do this by reflecting on how easily people still ‘blame’ others.

“Anyone who wishes to contribute creative material to the time capsule, but who cannot attend these events, is invited to contact us to discuss and arrange delivery.”

To reserve a place, or if you have any questions about this event, please contact Helen on info@spiritualorkney.co.uk or 01856 761133.

FaceBook page: ‘Orkney’s memorial to the victims of the witchcraft trials’   updates and news

The organisers are also inviting  donations of money or raffle prizes, time, skills, or creative material for the time capsule.

Financial donations to the project to be made via Orkney Heritage Society 

A ‘Witch Bottle’

Bellarmine Stoneware Witch Bottle

Contemporary Bellarmine Stoneware Witch Bottle From Mal Corvus Witchcraft & Folklore artefact private collection owned by Malcolm Lidbury (aka Pinkpasty) from Wikimedia Commons


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2 replies »

  1. An excellent and instructive day. My only criticism is that all the workshops were very inviting, making it difficult to choose which one to do. Perhaps a re-run might be considered?

    • I am currently uploading some film footage from the walk which retraced the footsteps of those who were condemned to death after being tried in Orkney accused of being a witch. Unfortunately although the videos are not long it is taking an extremely long time to upload them.

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