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Survey of Scottish Witchcraft Database

Survey of Scottish Witchcraft
Scottish History, School of History and Classics, The University of Edinburgh, Scotland

Woodcut of a witch trial

Searching for Cases of Witchcraft

Pointers for Use

This form searches the case made against an accused witch. It uses cultural details and dates to limit your search of the database and bring you a search result containing biographical and trial process information about accused witches. This will be linked to biographical information about the accused witch and trial details. You must enter a date range for this search to work. After that, we recommend that you start by only using one field and one option at a time. To do this highlight the cultural detail that you want to search on and make sure that 'Any' is highlighted in the other fields. Check your results and if you did not receive the result you wanted, add cultural details one at a time.

Sample Search

Finding cases that mention fairies and fairy motifs. To identify all the people accused of having connections with fairies highlight 'Fairies' in Characterisation field and 'Any' in all the other fields. This search will call up a list of people whose cases mention fairies or fairy motifs. You can then view specific biographical, cultural and trial process details about anyone on the list. If this list is too long, you can change your search parameters by entering a specific date or date range.

Notes on the form fields

Characterisation: Uses a fixed list of important cultural elements and social relationships found in witchcraft documents to limit the parameters of a search. The full list can be found in the drop-down list on the search form. Use these fields to search for types of case and/or cases that have particular cultural features or motifs. See the Glossary for a full list and definitions of the fixed characterisations.

Ritual Objects: Uses a fixed list of ritual objects mentioned in the witchcraft documents to limit the parameters of a search. The full list of ritual objects can be found in the drop-down list on the search form. See the Glossary for definitions and descriptions of the ritual objects that were mentioned in the documents.

Calendar Customs: Uses a fixed list of specific calendar celebrations or key dates that have been found in the witchcraft documents to limit the parameters of a search. A calendar custom is a special day. In most instances the calendar customs were mentioned as a way to express the time or date of an incident rather than as a celebration of the festival or special day itself. It was usually a way to mark the passage of time. The full list can be found in the drop-down list on the search form. See the Glossary for definitions and descriptions of the calendar customs that were mentioned in the documents.

Non-natural beings: Uses a fixed list of preternatural and/or supernatural beings that were mentioned in witchcraft documents to limit the parameters of a search. The full list can be found in the drop-down list on the search form. These were most often manifestations of the Devil, but many other beings were also described in witchcraft documents. See the Glossary for descriptions and definitions.

Demonic Pacts: Uses a fixed list of types of demonic pact motifs that were described in the documents to limit the parameters of a search. The full list can be found in the drop-down list on the search form. See the Glossary for descriptions and definitions.