When you think of witches, you probably think of Salem, right? Think again!
Since the beginning of tribal life in Scotland, there were women and men who worked with nature, the elements, herbs, and as seers. They were known as soothsayers, healers, magicians, witches and wizards, and they lived and worked peacefully among all peoples long. By about 750AD Scotland was inhabited by many different tribes, including the Scots, Picts, Britons, and English, who eventually supported and followed a Christian tradition to the detriment of the Pagan and Wiccan communities.
In the 2nd century, there was a famous Witch living on the Isle of Iona. Such was her renown that the king sent a trusted messenger to her to find out what was going to be the result of a rebellion then building in him kingdom. The Witch said that the king would soon be murdered, not by an enemy, but by one of his most trusted friends. When the messenger demanded who it was, she said it was him. After thinking it over, not wanting to report what the Witch had said, and perhaps be killed by the king in anticipation, the messenger did stab the king to death.
In the 16th and 18th centuries, Scotland became concerned with crimes of witchcraft. The witchcraft act of 1563 made the practice of witchcraft and even consulting with witches a capital offense. In 1735, a new Witchcraft Act was introduced. A person who claimed to have the power to call up spirits, or foretell the future, or cast spells was to be subject to fines and imprisonment. The Act applied to all of Great Britain. This Act remained in place until 1951.
Between 4,000-6,000 Scots were tried for witchcraft. Over 1,500 were executed, most by strangulation, then burnt.