Clearing the names of all those accused of witchcraft in the Scottish Borders - 300 years later

The Scottish Borders has a dark history that involved magic and witchcraft and ending in the death of many accused of going against God.

A campaign has been launched for all those punished and accused to issued an apology.

In 1563, the old Scottish Parliament passed the Witchcraft Act which made the practice of witchcraft itself, and consulting with witches, capital crimes. A similar law had been passed in England a year earlier.Before this, there is evidence of prosecutions of individuals for causing harm through witchcraft - suggesting that a belief in magic was commonplace - but cases were rare.As attitudes changed, and Scotland saw famine, plague and wars, many began blaming witches and witchcraft including the King of Scotland James VI who was obsessed with the threat posed by witches. Here is a map detailing where accused witches lived.Historian and author Mary W. Craig, who has written books on the Borders witches said there were many reasons why the witchcraft trials began and religion played a big part.

Trials began all over Scotland,  with three times the number of witchcraft prosecutions than England and five times the European average, by the time the act was repealed there were an estimated 4,000 people who had been accused and tried.Five national witch hunts took place, under the supervision of Royal Commissions, but they were poorly documented and it was up to local authorities to record accusations and outcomes of trials."We think the number accused is a conservative number" says Claire Mitchell QC, who leads Witches of Scotland calling for a pardon, a government apology and an official monument for the victims. "the petition started because I am interested in miscarriages of justice, and noticed there was a.lack of visibility in public spaces of women's history."After a two-year campaign the Witches of Scotland has gained the support of Nicola Sturgeon's administration, ongoing talks could lead to legislation that pardons all the men and women accused.