Friday, 26 October 2012

The Witches Maze

... might be a good title for a story, but is in fact very much a real thing. It's a memorial to 11 witches who were legally killed in Scotland in 1662. According to the BBC report:
The castle was once home to William Halliday and his son John who held court over the 'covens' in the village. 
Lord Moncrieff, who now owns Tullibole, commissioned the maze as there is no memorial in Crook of Devon. 
In 1662 the court sat five times and resulted in the death of 11 suspected witches. 
Those who survived the trials were taken to a small mound near the current village hall and strangled by the common hangman and their bodies thrown on a fire. 

 Whiches Maze

The central pillar of the maze (commenced on the orders of Lord Moncrieff in 2003) bears the names of the victims on its five sides. You can find out more about the background to the trials and the victims here. The pillar was carved by Gillian Forbes.

The maze naturally made me think of M.R. James' story 'Mr Humphreys and His Inheritance', a personal favourite of mine. That was the work of James Wilson, an 18th century scholar of the dark arts who might well have been a witch. It's notable that one of the names above is Wilson. Coincidence, I'm sure...

There are of course a good few mazes in tales of the supernatural, not least the crop maze in Carole Tyrrell's story 'The Rustling of Tiny Paws', which features in the latest ST. I wonder if anyone will be spooked by the maze at Tullibole Castle, given that these things are designed to disorientate and generally shake people up?

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