Witches On Trial

The Pendle Witch Trials

If the UK has an equivalent of Salem it is in Pendle, a group of witch trials that took place in 1612.

Ten “witches” were hanged after two groups of trials that were very well recorded for the time, guaranteeing them their grisly place in history.

The Pendle Witch Trials may have been sparked by rivalry between two families who were trying to make a living by posing as witches. And it certainly seems likely that at least some of the Pendle Witches did believe they had magical powers. Working as a healer, or threatening to accuse others of witchcraft were both good ways of earning money for the early-modern peasantry, though they came with terrible risks.

The trials have had a long cultural after-life, featuring in novels, TV shows, poems. One of the victims is remembered with a statue in her home town and in the name of the playwright and Chumbawamba singer who took the name Alice Nutter in her memory.

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