Fantasy and Humour in Scottish Witchcraft Literature

Robert Burns’s Tam o’ Shanter, published in 1791, is the most famous Scottish poem about witches. In it, Burns narrates the drunken Tam’s comical encounter with a witches’ sabbat. The pacing is adroit, the grotesque imagery memorable. It’s a Romantic work, with the spooky ruins of Alloway Kirk at its centre; Burns was asked to […]

Remembering Scottish Witches

We need to talk about witchcraft. That’s not a demand: it’s an observation. As a historian who studies Scottish witchcraft, I find in conversations that people don’t ask me what I know about it; rather, they’re keen to tell me what they know. For instance, I’m often told that witches were ducked in Edinburgh’s North Loch. Even more […]


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