Sue Morrison's Oral History Research & Training Consultancy
A wee message to volunteers everywhere: "You Are Amazing!" x
Paisley’s Enchanted Threads
Paisley's Enchanted Threads is a local history project exploring present-day attitudes, interpretations, and stories related to the Renfrewshire Witch Hunt of 1697. This was a significant historical event, given that it was the last major with hunt, and mass-execution of witches in Western Europe - possibly the Western world. The story has been passed down the generations, but our voices have never been collected. With your help, we hope to change this. We are speaking with people who have heard the story, and recording their thoughts, memories, opinions, and associations. We will create a digital archive that the whole community, and future generations, can enjoy. This is a special story, one that belongs to the whole community, and we look forward to preserving and promoting it.
Sue Morrison's Oral History Research & Training Consultancy
A wee message to volunteers everywhere: "You Are Amazing!" x
The bravest Glasgow woman who stood up to the Great Scottish Witch Hunt
Marion Walker took on the worst excesses of the Great Scottish Witch Hunt of 1597 in a bid to avenge the unnecessary killings of women who were executed on the evidence of a phoney sorcerer.
Communities Past & Futures Society supports lots of community projects across Scotland. Please give their page a like!
We couldn't wait to show you the latest acquisition for our reminiscence boxes - a lovely wooden snake toy made by a creative German POW imprisoned in Scotland! It's beautiful - and still works well!
Map of Scots women accused of witchcraft published for first time
A map that tracks more than 3,000 Scots women who were accused of being witches in the 16th and 17th Century has been published for the first time.
Bid to return skull taken from Scotland's only witch grave launched
Campaigners have launched a search for the missing skull of a 18th century woman accused of having sex with the devil.
PROJECT LAUNCH EVENT
Recently, we held our project launch, which celebrated everything that the project has achieved since it got up and running in April 2014. Thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund, the project has given local people an opportunity to explore their heritage in a pretty unique way. But in doing so, it has brought people together, forged new friendships, and strengthened old ones. Who would have thought that a project about witches would have generated so much laughter and fun... Our launch event brought together volunteers, respondents, and professionals, and we all had a great afternoon. It allowed the Society to show off the fruits of everyone's hard work, and we are grateful to everyone who has been involved in this special project.
The centre of the project has been the creation of an archive of oral testimony. This will be deposited locally - stay tuned for details! We thank the people in the local community who have given us their time, and the students and staff at the local schools who have warmly welcomed us. From the oral testimony, we were able to produce our community book, which we will be distributing among the local community over the next few weeks; from the oral testimony, Tim Mitchell of Rubikon Pictures was able to produce a film based on the contribution of students and teachers from local schools. Dr Sue Morrison was central to the success of this, and her overall consultation throughout the project was invaluable. Special thanks also go to Arts and Crafts expert Rachel Kelly, and project photographer, Donnie MacLean.
As well as the archive, book, and community events, we are proud of the brilliant artwork that our artists produced. Their work can be enjoyed in our community book, and elsewhere on our page, and our website - www.paisleysenchantedthreads.co.uk The project film can also be viewed from our website. The website itself is a special creation, completely unique, and it would not have been possible without the hard work of our talented web designer, Mark W. Downie. Thanks, Mark!
Last, but certainly not least, our launch event gave us a chance to formally thank the wonderful project volunteers, without whom none of this would have been possible. It was they who gathered the community voices that made the archive, book, and website the great successes that they are. The current project may be coming to an end, but the friendships that have been built over its duration will go on.
Our Project Art - We would like to thank each and every one of our wonderful artists, who have really helped to bring the project to life, thanks to their skill, and ability to interpret source material relating to the story. Their work can also be enjoyed on our website - http://www.paisleysenchantedthreads.co.uk/artist-impressions/ Please click on each image to find out more.
Here's a very seasonal picture of the witches' trees in Erskine, close to where Bargarran House used to stand. Many thanks to Caroline Smith for sending us this great photograph. We hope everyone's wrapping up against the cold - brrrr.
Here's a scene that encapsulates some of the themes related to the Renfrewshire witch hunt of 1697 - suspicious deaths, a young girl bewitched, community shock, and accusation. Thanks to Susan Arbuckle for the image!
Wishing everyone a merry Christmas and a happy new year. Look forward to seeing you all in 2015!
LOCAL STUDENTS ENGAGE WITH THE STORY OF 1697
We have had the great pleasure and privilege of exploring the story of the Renfrewshire witch hunt with students of Johnstone High School and Park Mains High School recently. Dr Sue Morrison, our oral history specialist, and Tim Mitchell, or professional film maker, were taken aback at their depth of knowledge and enthusiasm, as well as the brilliant interviews that they conducted during our time there. Both of them could not thank the staff at both schools enough for the welcome that they gave our project, and for all of their hard work before their arrival and during the activities.
The students received oral history training from Dr Sue Morrison, which gave them the necessary skills to go on and conduct some amazing interviews on the story of 1697 with one another. Our professional film maker, Tim Mitchell from Rubikon Pictures, was on hand to record the interviews that the students conducted. We would like to thank both Sue and Tim for their continuing hard work for our project. The students responded really well, and as well as receiving a certificate from Paisley's Enchanted Threads for participation in our project, they will also receive a certificate of oral history training from Sue Morrison Consultancy.
The staff at both schools were brilliant throughout. Sue and Tim would especially like to thank Deputy Head Teacher Graham Munro at Johnstone High who went above and beyond for them, and Head Teacher Walter Hayburn, who offered them his full support. Thanks also go to Duncan Fenwick, History, who was very helpful, and gave a great interview! At Park Mains High, they are indebted to Yvonne Williamson, History, for all of her hard work, and for taking time to be interviewed as well. Brilliant! Mr McCluskey and Mr McKerill were great sports too after they agreed to be interviewed by the students. All senior staff were very supportive, especially as exams were taking place at the school, and both Sue and Tim are grateful to them.
PROJECT WEBSITE LAUNCH. WITCHES ON THE WEB!!!
With Halloween still fresh in our minds, we are keeping the witch fever alive! We are delighted to be able to share our brand new, extensive project website with you. We are very proud of it.
Our new website is a true reflection of just how far our community project has come over the past few months. The main element of our project is all about asking people to share their thoughts, opinions, and memories associated with the story of the Renfrewshire witch hunt. Our website has a selection of audio clips taken from some of the interviews our wonderful team of local volunteers have collected so far. Click on the Oral Testimony section and enjoy! We have been really pleased at how many local people have taken the time to share their voice with us, and are grateful to them. We are still busily interviewing people so, if you haven't added your voice to our archive yet, please get in touch. We would love to hear from you.
Another feature of our website is the telling of the story of 1697 through the people, the places, and the events. As well as gathering community voices, everyone from the Society is passionate about education, and promoting this story as much as possible. We believe that our website will help people of all ages to find out more about this very special part of our heritage in a simple and accessible way.
Yet another exciting and innovative part of our project has been our involvement with local artists, who have produced images relating to 1697. We are delighted to be able to show off some of their hard work on our website. We would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their amazing and creative work. Their images really help to bring the story alive.
Finally, this would not be possible without the creative genius of our project web developer, Mark Downie. The Society and everyone involved with the project - professionals, volunteers, and respondents, owe him a debt of thanks.
Halloween is a special time of year, and we've been busy enjoying it with our local community. On Saturday 25th October we shared a hugely successful afternoon with some of the people who have joined us in collecting and sharing stories related to the Renfrewshire witch hunt of 1697. What better time to talk about witches? We had something for adults, and something for children (and those adults who have never grown up!)
Many people joined us to listen to the wonderfully witchy poetry of Betty McKellar. Two of the artists who have contributed to our project, John McDougall, and Kevin Cantwell, were on hand to present their superb creations to our audience of adults. We then had the pleasure of listening to a couple of papers based on the story of 1697, before everyone had a chance to ask questions, and share stories and opinions with one another relating to this very special community story. Everyone then had a good laugh as we enjoyed refreshments together.
Meanwhile, in the next room, we invited some children to a Halloween party.The children listened to some storytelling, before enjoying some arts and crafts under the expert supervision of Rachel Kelly, ably assisted by Susan. There was also face painting, and many thanks go to the wonderful and talented Elaine Muir for taking the time to share her skills. The children, and the adults, also got to enjoy some film based on previous oral history training given to local children by expert oral historian Dr Sue Morrison, filmed and edited by Tim Mitchell. We are extremely grateful to both of them for that, and for their tireless assistance on the day.
Most of all, we would like to thank everybody who came along and contributed to a wonderful community event.
We will be launching our main project website very soon, so do stay tuned for that. In the meantime, please enjoy a selection of photographs from what was a very special day for everyone who is involved in our project. We would especially like to thank the amazing Donnie MacLean for his photography work.
STUDENTS TAKE THE STORY TO THE COMMUNITY
On Friday 24th of October, we had a great day with students from Dumbarton Academy and residents of the Castle View Care Home in Dumbarton. The students got an opportunity to promote their love of the story of the Renfrewshire witch hunt, conducting interviews with the residents of Castle View. Dr Sue Morrison, a leading professional oral historian, was on hand to deliver oral history training to the students. It was a highly successful day for all involved, with plenty of laughs along the way as well! We have some photographs of the day to show you, many thanks to the students for taking these!
We would like to thank Dr Amanda Moody, the students and staff at Dumbarton Academy. Huge thanks also go to the staff and residents at Castle View, who warmly welcomed us all into their Centre, and participated in the filmed oral history interviews, and related activities. Last but not least, we are especially grateful to Dr Sue Morrison and Tim Mitchell for all of their hard graft leading up to the day and on the day itself. Many thanks!
Thank you Lorri McAuley for sending us this very timely safety warning. If you know a witch, please make them aware...
Who has the Halloween fever?
Ever wondered what Christian Shaw, who was at the centre of the Renfrewshire Witch Hunt, looked like? As well as collecting voices from the community, a part of our project has been all about engaging artists with the story, and on Halloween Day we will unveil amazing, original images when we launch our main project website. Here is a taster of an early sketch from Caroline McCaig, who was given the opportunity to present Christian Shaw. You can enjoy the completed image of Christian Shaw, along with the rest of our brilliant art, very soon.
And, to go with the wee witch quiz below, which is getting us geared up for Halloween, here's a light article from the BBC about 10 notorious witch trials in the UK. Of course, our very own Renfrewshire witch hunt of 1697 is in there. Thanks again to Paula Hughes!
Owen Davies lifts the lid on 10 of Britain?s most infamous witch trials The prosecution and hanging of two men and eight women on Pendle Hill in Lancashire in1612 has long caught the public imagination, the story being retold in puppet shows, pamphlets, plays and novels.
What do you think of this witch? Pat Bonar, one of our respondents who hailed from Gallowhill, and worked in the Ferguslie Mills, kindly allowed us to take a picture of the witch that sits in a corner of his living room. Pat gave a great interview about 1697, had lots of opinions about witches and witch belief, and many stories to tell. If you would like to share your voice with us, please message us on Facebook, call us on 0141 563 0476, or email us at [email protected]
Ah, proof that the Witches' Trees are still to this day attracting the right sort of people!
Many thanks to the intrepid Pat Dornan and Susan Steell for getting us all the evidence we think we need...
Harvest moon above the Witches' Trees beside Bargarran. We've looked closely, but still can't see any flying broomsticks. Still, Halloween is coming soon...
Many thanks to Pat Dornan, one of our volunteers, for the brilliant photograph!
Children's Oral History Day!
On Saturday, 30th August, we had the privilege of spending an amazing day with some local children, exploring the story of 1697, and ideas about witches more generally. The children received some training from Sue on how to conduct oral history interviews, before getting the opportunity to interview some of our brilliant project volunteers about the stories surrounding the 1697 witch hunt. Tim Mitchell was on hand to film them as they did this!
The children also had the chance to get involved in some arts and crafts activities, and as well as lots of drawing, they made some superb looking witch and fairy dolls, shown in John McDougall's photographs, with the help of Rachel, Susan, and Stephanie. Michael did some storytelling about the witch hunt, but the children by this point were keen to tell their own stories about witches, so it became more of a group discussion! The children were the real stars of the whole day, and it was a pleasure to see how they engaged with the topic with such intelligence and enthusiasm.
Shortly, the project will be working with some local schools, giving students an opportunity to be trained in oral history skills, and interview local people about the story while being filmed. Going by the children's event we have just had, it's going to be great, and we're looking forward immensely to more community engagement.
We have been busily collecting the voice of the local community lately, and it's been amazing to hear so many different people engaging with the story. Do please contact us if you want to get involved, and if you would like your voice to be heard.
In the meantime, following our sharing of Christian Shaw's signature with you, here is an image of another remarkable historical artefact. It is one of only 3 original copies of the Narrative that were written in 1697 documenting Christian Shaw's sufferings. This one belonged to Maxwell of Pollock. Just looking at this can help to take you back to the original story. Enjoy!
WITCHES ON THE WEB!!! CHRISTIAN SHAW'S HANDWRITING!!!
We are very proud to present the start of our web project. Our full website will be launched by Halloween 2014. But we already have some great things to read and listen to, and more information on how to get involved with us.
We have some audio clips of people we have had the great pleasure of speaking with so far. We have a brief write-up of the story, which is pretty unique online. We have some research snippets. And, we have the great pleasure of sharing Christian Shaw's signature with you. To have a physical connection with this special person from our past is very exciting.
Much, much more will follow over the next few months. We would especially like to thank our talented and hard working web designer, Mark W. Downie.
Please click on the link, and have a look around!
Paisley Local History Society is pleased to welcome you to Paisley's Enchanted Threads. This is a community project that aims to uncover modern day attitudes, opinions, and stories relating to the Renfrewshire Witch Hunt that took place in 1697. Central to the project will be the creation of a digit…
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