‘Scottish Witches’ by Lily Seafield


This is a collection of factual, and no-so-factual, tales of Scottish witches, ghosts, superstitions and folklore, and ranges from the seventeenth century through to the twentieth. For the most part, the stories are about witches and the various confessions, trials and punishments dished out to them by a society that believed ordinary folk could converse with the Devil and cast evil spells on anyone who disagreed with them.

Though many of the stories are about real people and events, such as The North Berwick Witches, Isobel Gowdie, and Christian Shaw of Bargarran, the author doesn’t always seem concerned about providing factual accounts. Admittedly, in some cases the ‘facts’ may be hard to come by, but with books such as ‘The Witches of Fife: Witch-Hunting in a Scottish Shire’ available, I wonder why Ms Seafield didn’t bother doing a bit more research. Some accounts of the punishments meted out to anyone silly enough to confess to being a witch are fascinating and well worth reading, but there’s an awful lot of, ‘and it was said’ and ‘apparently’, along with a generally tedious writing style that doesn’t do the subject matter justice.

The latter part of the book deals with folklore and folk tales which don’t seem to fit with the rest of the text and give the impression of ‘padding’ by the author—the retelling of the antics of Lord Soulis and Alexander Skene are just plain silly and make no sense in a book titled, Scottish Witches’.

Interesting and flawed.

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  5 comments for “‘Scottish Witches’ by Lily Seafield

  1. 12/12/2020 at 1:53 PM

    I read your review with great interest, Colin. It’s a pity about the negatives as this is a topic that interests me greatly. I think I will look up the other book you mentioned.


    • 12/12/2020 at 7:46 PM

      Thanks Robbie, but the other book I mentioned is much more of an academic nature and doesn’t have the same detail as ‘Scottish Witches’. Something in-between the two would be perfect, but I haven’t found it yet!

      Liked by 1 person

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