New journal volume focuses on the victims of Orkney’s witchcraft trials

Dr Ragnhild Ljosland
Dr Ragnhild Ljosland

The launch event for the ninth volume of the New Orkney Antiquarian Journal took place last week and featured a presentation by Dr Ragnhild Ljosland, a lecturer at the UHI Archeology Institute.

Book Cover. New Orkney Antiquarian Journal Volume Nine.

Dr Ljosland is the editor of the new Orkney Heritage Society publication, which focuses on the society’s project to commemorate the victims of the county’s witchcraft trials.

Based on Dr Ljosland’s research into the subject, the project ran from 2013 to 2019 and culminated in the unveiling of a memorial stone at Gallowha, at the top of the Clay Loan, in Kirkwall, on March 9, 2019.

A conference to mark the unveiling of the memorial saw several papers presented and some of these, along with later commissions, form the basis of the seven articles in the new volume.

The journal focuses on witchcraft trials held in Kirkwall between 1594 and 1706. Who were the women and men accused, and of what were they accused? What were the beliefs underlying these trials and what motivated the accusers?

Dr Ljosland and Helen Woodsford-Dean were two of the project’s organisers and their opening article traces the background to the witchcraft trials and the evolution of the project to commemorate the victims.

Other contributors are Liv Helene Willumsen, Jocelyn Rendall, Ashleigh Angus, Peter Marshall, Corwen Broch and Marita Lϋck.

The final article lists the names of those being commemorated by this volume.