The Deils Ain (The Devils Own)
The Story of Witch Persecution in Scotland by Roy J M Pugh
The Deil’s Ain recounts the facts of a dark and disturbing chapter in Scotland’s history.  From time immemorial, the human race has believed in the supernatural, and has often suffered for that belief, perhaps no more so than in the period beginning in the early fifteenth century and ending in the early eighteenth.    After nearly one and a half millennia of religious supremacy in Europe, a corrupt Roman Catholic church, looking for heretics and aware of increasing opposition, decided that witches should be categorised amongst its enemies and their persecution began.

Too late in cleansing itself of internal corruption, the Catholic Church was overtaken by the Reformation, particularly in northern Europe.    Ironically, Catholics themselves became targets for the reformers, in many cases adherence to the old rituals being interpreted as witchcraft.    In Scotland, the zeal of the reformers reached fanatical proportions and the new church’s grip on society was almost absolute.    All sorts of trivial behaviour led to accusations of witchcraft, not to mention petty and personal disputes.    Once a ‘witch’ was discovered, she (or less often he) would be interrogated and sometimes tortured to reveal the identity of others.   Everyone knew that witches operated in covens.

It is difficult for us today to come to terms with what transpired not really so long ago.

Scots language content:  

The major part of the book is written in straightforward English but, quite frequently, quotes are given which contain old Scots words.   In addition, chapter 4, which is a dramatisation of a mid seventeenth century trial, is liberally sprinkled with old Scots to add realism.   A glossary is provided to help those not familiar with lowland Scots and any normal English speaker should have little trouble in understanding with its assistance.

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