Memorial to 27 victims executed after being accused of witchcraft to be placed in Peebles

28.08.22 peebles withcraft memorial location LDRS
The location for the memorial. Credit: Local Democracy Reporting Service

A memorial to 27 victims from Peebles, who were executed after being accused of witchcraft almost 500 years ago is to be located beside a solitary tree in a town park, it has emerged.

The granite slab with the names of all the victims is to be erected alongside a copper beech tree in Tweed Green.

Peebles Callants Club has also agreed to construct a modest, stone wall around the memorial, the first of its kind in the Borders.

Members of Peebles Common Good Fund Sub-Committee agreed the location, subject to a few minor clarifications, when they met via video-link on Wednesday, August 24.

In 1629, 27 people from Peebles and the surrounding area were executed at Calf Knowe - now known as Venlaw Hill - on a single day after being accused of witchcraft.

An estimated 2,500 Scots were executed for breaking the Witchcraft Acts between 1573 and 1736.

Simon Ritchie, one of the driving forces behind the project, said: "We are very conscious we don't want to damage the tree in any way so the memorial will be a sufficient distance away from any surface roots, and, for two reasons - to frame the memorial in situ and to protect the base of the tree from trampling - we are proposing to put in a small circular wall around the tree to frame the memorial."

Fellow project organiser Elisa Smith said: "The fact that the Callants are building the wall is another good connection with the town.

"We've not discussed with the Callants what material would be used but it would obviously be something in keeping with the town, the flowerbeds and everything that is are already there."

If all goes to plan it is hoped the memorial will be in place by the end of September, followed by an official unveiling in October.

Peebles-based William Purves Funeral Directors has agreed to place and maintain the memorial for free.

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