A family saga set in Scotland from the mid-1600s when witches were being burned at the stake and the Church of Scotland had a tight hold on the lives of its parishioners.
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Ours, Yours and Mines
Ours, Yours and Mines
Many people with Scottish ancestry will find Agricultural Labourers among their forebears, because so many people in Scotland prior to the industrial revolution were engaged in working the land in one form or another. It was a time when men worked by the sweat of their brow and women worked beside them and made a home and raised the children as best they could. It was also a time of political upheaval, of strong influence in people’s lives by the Church of Scotland and of superstition.
This novel goes inside the lives of family members as they transition from farming to coal mining. The stories are based on real people and places and give an insight into how people lived in the 1700s and 1800s.
'Faeries, Farms and Folk' is a prequel to 'Ours, Yours and Mines' and 'Far Across The Sea'.
Chapter 2 (1659)
FIRE ON THE SANDS
n the thirteenth day of April, the sky grew dark as storm clouds gathered. Thunder cracked and lightning lit up the stretch of beach known as Whitesands by the River Nith, in the market town of Dumfries. A crowd began to gather. The women pulled their shawls tightly around their heads and shoulders, the men drank wine and ale and the children ran about with excitement as they waited for the spectacle to unfold. Although witch hunting had been practised and accepted in Scotland for hundreds of years, witch burning was an event to equal any carnival. An edict had gone out to all the kirks in the parishes of Dumfries for members of the various congregations to bear witness to the ridding of witches in the area. The farmers and townsfolk were simple God-fearing people and they were superstitious. Witchcraft was part of their belief system and very real to them. They would not dare disobey a direction from the kirk for fear that the wrath of God would fall upon them. As they assembled to watch the gruesome tableau that was about to play out in front of them, almost to a man they were filled with righteous indignation. Witches were instruments of the Devil and as such were an insult to God. God had given his power on earth to the minister and the Kirk Session elders, and the members of the congregation felt safe in the knowledge that their mortal beings and immortal souls were well tended.
The kirk elders who had decreed that the women should die, planted nine wooden stakes about six feet long vertically into the ground at Whitesands as other male parishioners gathered bundles of sticks known as faggots, and large clumps of peat and bundles of straw to place at the feet of the stakes. The accused women had all been measured and a hole at the neck height of each of them had been cut into the stakes. The executioners busied themselves threading ropes through holes in the stakes and pulling on the ropes to test the tension. The convicted women, many of them frail and in ill health, all of them trembling in fear, were dragged to the Whitesands with chains around their necks and torsos. They were facing a cruel death in front of a jeering mob. As the women were positioned and each tied to a stake, ministers prayed over them to save their eternal souls.
Most of the curious onlookers that day believed that the women - condemned witches - deserved their punishment and had foregone their rights to live among Christian people. There was little sympathy for them and never a thought of forgiveness. In fact, the women’s suffering and torture was cause for celebration among the congregation as the devils were removed from their midst.