A YEAR-LONG campaign to secure a memorial in Peebles for people accused of and executed for witchcraft has finally come to fruition.

A granite memorial stone – generously donated by William Purves Funeral Directors, and engraved with the names of 27 local women and men from across Peeblesshire who were brutally killed in 1629 – was unveiled on Tweed Green on Saturday morning.

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The stone also stands in memory of the many more who were killed during the suspicious and superstitious times of the seventeenth century.

It commemorates those persecuted and, it is hoped, will serve as a modern day reminder of the importance of tolerance, patience, and compassion.

Around 200 people braved torrential rain to witness the unveiling event.

Border Telegraph: Witchcraft Memorial

Local campaigner Elisa Smith said: “I’m truly overwhelmed by the response of the community, both in Peebles and beyond, towards the memorial. We knew there was support, but to have so many people turn out on the day, especially when it was raining, was incredible.

“Every day since the event when I’ve passed the site I’ve seen people crossing the grass to look at the stone, and to read the names.

“This is exactly why we put it on Tweed Green, to ensure that as many people as possible can see it and can acknowledge the horrors that happened in this town and elsewhere. It’s wonderful!”

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The event was accompanied by music and a blessing from local Church of Scotland Minister Rev. Dr Tony Foley.

A short talk followed on the historical background of the Peeblesshire trials, and their place in the Scottish context, from author and historian Mary W. Craig.

Fellow campaigner Simon Ritchie said: “It was a very emotional moment as we pulled the cloth off the new stone. It really is a beautiful memorial to those who were killed – their names etched in gold in the blue granite.

“My hope is that it stands there for a very long time as a reminder of those who were killed, and as a reminder to everyone who sees it of the importance of tolerance and respect even today.

“Elisa and I led this campaign but we didn’t do it alone by any means.

“We owe our gratitude to Leslie and Emma at William Purves Funeral Directors for the stone; Mary Craig for her enthralling talk and encouragement throughout; Rev Tony Foley for his moving prayer and blessing; Frances, Laura, and Tracey, who provided the perfect musical backdrop; Greener Peebles for the flowers; Forsyths for the hospitality; Tweeddale Youth Action for use of their venue; my brother Olly for taking photos; and Elisa’s family for their help on the day.”