Project launched to honour Scottish women persecuted as witches

A new cultural project is set to launch this year to honour the women persecuted as witches in Scotland.

Heal & Harrow will play tribute to the victims of witch trails in the 16th and 17th centuries. The project includes poetry and music as well as a live performance which may tour across the UK when current lockdown restrictions are eased.

The founders of the project are musicians Rachel Newton and Lauren MacColl, who both have a deep interest in the history of witches and Scottish folklore. In their launch, the pair said “Heal & Harrow will be a multi-disciplinary work paying a humanising tribute to those persecuted during the 16th and 17th century Scottish Witch Trials, while also exploring historical beliefs in the supernatural and modern day parallels in our society. 

“A timely artistic response to the current campaign for a pardon and memorial to those accused in the trials, the work will be inspired by and in remembrance of real women who were persecuted and tried as witches, and characters from the folkloric tales and mythology enshrined in our oral culture.”

Newton and MacColl will work with designer, artist and photographer Elly Lucas, and an as yet unnamed leading writer. Details of the project and its collaborators are set to be announced at a later date, and each piece of work will represent a key character from Scotland’s history.

Heal & Harrow, which was launched on social media earlier this month, is currently seeking funders.

Words by Emily Withers.

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Image: Elly Lucas

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