An 18th century witch trial following a plague of cats in a...

Date 14 December 1972
Track ID 50903
Part 1

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An 18th century witch trial following a plague of cats in a Caithness house.

In 1719 at Burnside, halfway between Thurso and Scrabster, a woman was plagued by cats while her husband was away from home. When the husband returned he found the strange cats had been gathering in the house at night. He killed one and threw it out of the house but the carcass disappeared overnight. He cut the leg off another and it was also gone, but a mile or two out of town, a poor old woman suspected of being a witch lost her leg.

She was reported by her neighbours, arrested by the Sheriff, and imprisoned in Thurso. When interrogated she named many other women as accomplices. The local ministers wanted to burn them. The woman who had lost her leg died in prison, but the others continued to deny having anything to do with the Devil. Lord Advocate Dundas ordered the case to be dropped and the women freed, much to the grievance of the Caithness people, who were convinced that the women were the allies of the Devil. It was the last big witch trial in Caithness.

Recording Location

County - Caithness

Parish - Thurso

Item Location

County - Caithness

Parish - Thurso

Village/Place - Burnside


English, Scots



Source Type

Reel to reel

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