Pendle Hill

No one who has read even the most cursory details about the witch hunting craze which gripped England in the seventeenth century could fail to have heard the name of Pendle. The small town was the site, in 1612, of fully fledged witch mania and before the year was out, twelve people were dead, hanged as witches. The two families at the heart of the coven, as it was supposed to be, were possibly a little eccentric and had certainly badly frightened various neighbours, who went to the magistrate with their accusation of witchcraft. These accusations were taken seriously, as they would be when King James I himself had written a book on the subject of witches, believing in them implicitly.

The discovery of witches took an unpleasant line. These women – as they mostly were – were ducked in water, run round the room to prevent them sleeping and pricked with trick needles to look for the devil’s mark. If they had a pet, it was considered a ‘familiar’ which could transform into a demon at will. They were believed to be able to fly, to transform themselves into animals and to bring death and destruction to those they disliked. And the witches didn’t really help themselves, it must be said. They employed all kinds of hallucinogens to help themselves through the dark winter evenings and they believed most of what the people said about them, so the whole witchcraft area is a bit of a grey one.

But whatever you believe about witches and the rights and wrongs of what happened to those women from Pendle Hill – it can’t be denied that it is a wild and atmospheric place, where you can believe in almost anything! Whether in hot sun with the grass singing in the wind or on a dark and stormy night, there is something very odd about Pendle Hill.


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