Campaigners find ‘ideal location’ for national memorial to Scotland’s ‘witches’

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A site at St Ninians and Loch Fitty near Kelty in Fife has won support from members of campaign and education group Remembering Accused Witches of Scotland.

Trustees recently visited the site, which lies on an old opencast mine, with the land soon to be developed into a wellness and leisure park that will span more than 900 acres.

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The move towards the memorial comes after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made a public apology over the persecution of almost 4,000 known people in Scotland – mostly women – who were accused of witchcraft between the 16th and 18th century.

Bold designs are being drawn up to develop the former opencast mine at St Ninians, near Kelty, Fife, and transform it into a health and wellness park with plans now taking shape to place a national memorial to those persecuted as witches in Scotland at the site . PIC: Contributed.

Some believe up to two thirds of those accused were executed, although estimates vary.

The site at St Ninians is considered appropriate for the memorial given the significant number of people who suffered during a series of witch hunts in Fife.

Elizabeth McMann, trustee of Remembering the Accused Witches of Scotland (RAWS), said: “We set out to get a pardon from the state, an apology from the church, and a memorial to commemorate the accused witches in Scotland, as well as those throughout the world.

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Almost 4,000 people were persecuted for witchcraft in Scotland from the 16th to 18th Century in a series of witch hunts with campaigners now eyeing sites for a national memorial for those who suffered at the hands of the church and state. PIC: Creative Commons.

“Having visited St Ninians, we believe that this is an ideal place to put the much-desired memorial and it is especially relevant as a location given the major role that Fife played in pursuing those accused of witchcraft.”

Sara Kelly, co-founder of RAWS, said the “beautiful site” had “immense potential” to host the memorial.

Ms Kelly said: “It fits in very much with our ethos of communities, the environment and that the people who we want to be remembered are in a respectful and beautiful place.

“St Ninians would be the ideal location, it is highly accessible and is somewhere that anyone who is interested could visit on a regular basis. Educating the general public and school children as part of this is also very important to us.”

The site of the proposed eco-therapy wellness and leisure park is now owned by National Pride UK, a social enterprise that works with the NHS, local authorities and charities to build sustainable accommodation and health facilities for both paying guests and medical referrals.

A wellness spa complex has been proposed for Loch Fitty. A rewilding program for the former industrial land, which includes planting of native woodland, is also being proposed.

The organization has also bought up a former opencast mine near Auchinleck in Ayrshire.

The visit by RAWS to St Ninians follows National Pride’s recent pledge to support the national memorial at St Ninians.

Andy Whitlock, from National Pride UK, said: “We were proud to host Remembering the Accused Witches of Scotland and local Councilors at St Ninians.

“Before we look to take the next steps on hosting a national memorial for those accused witches, we will seek to engage extensively on the potential design for this.

“As an eco-therapy park accessible to the public, St Ninians Wellness will be a place of nature-based healing and we fully agree with those who have identified it as a fitting location for such a memorial.”

National Pride (St Ninians) Ltd is preparing to lodge and application with Fife Council for the development of the site.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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