THE NATIONAL Museum of Scotland has unveiled a number of themed tours to be held throughout November.
‘Supernatural Scotland’ is one such tour in which the magic and myths associated with artefacts at the National Museum will be investigated and explored.
As volunteer guide Eleanor Burns says in the promotional video for the ‘Supernatural Scotland’ tours, the aim is to look more closely at the ‘weird’ things in the museum, such as superstitions and religious practices.
One aspect of the tour is looking at witchcraft, and King James VI’s interest in it - indeed, he was an expert on the topic and wrote a book called ‘Demonology’ on the subject of witchcraft. The tour will also explore the legend that when King James returned from a trip to Denmark in Scandinavia, the route back home to Scotland was treacherous and difficult to pass on account of a number of rocks, which are said to have been raised by witches.
Several hundred witchcraft trials were held in Scotland throughout the course of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. Scotland allowed the use of torture on suspected witches to get them to confess to their ‘crimes’,
Torture instruments, such as the ‘boot’ (an iron boot-shaped instrument put on the foot and heated up) and thumbscrews, which are on display in the museum, were used to try and force confessions out of people suspected of witchcraft.
The last witch to be executed in Scotland was in Dornoch, in 1723, and was accused of having turned her daughter into a pony.