9 brutal torture methods and cruel punishments Scotland’s ‘witches’ endured

An estimated 4,000 to 6,000 Scots, mostly from the Lowlands, were tried for witchcraft between the late 15th and early 18th Century with around three quarters of those accused of sorcery and supernaturalism being women.

The trials led to the execution of 1,500 people, most of whom were strangled and burned. Here we look at the punishments handed out by the church and state during this dark period of Scottish history.

The Scold's Bridle, or branks, was used to 'silence' nags, gossips and women suspected of witchcraft. This one was used in Glasgow during the 16th Century.

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This scold's bridle was used in Aberdeen's Tolbooth jail. The iron cage, or muzzle, was secured over the head with a padlock, and included a piece that went into the mouth and over the tongue, to prevent it wagging.
The remains of this well in The Gallowgreen, Paisley was where the so-called Paisley Witches were strangled and burned in 1697. Their remains were interred nearby Maxwellton Cross.
An illustration of schoolmaster John Flan, a schoolmaster of Saltpans, who was convicted at the North Berwick Witch Trials in 1590. Flan was burnt to death at Castlehill after having his fingernails forcibly removed.
Professional witch prickers were used to pierce a suspect's skin in the belief that an association with the devil would render them immune from pain.
Suspected witches kneel before James VI, who oversaw the North Berwick Witch Trials. He believed a supernatural plot was being mounted to kill his wife, Anne of Denmark. He later wrote a compendium on witchcraft.
These branks were first mentioned in Glasgow's records in 1574.
This monument near Dunning in Perthshire was supposedly built in memoriy of Maggie Wall who was burnt as a witch on this spot in 1657. However, no records of her witchraft trial or death exist.
Helen Duncan, also known as Hellish Nell, from Callander, was the last person to be found guilty under the 1735 Witchcraft Act after holding bogus seances during World War Two.
The Witches Well - or Witches Fountain - set into the wall of Edinburgh Castle esplanade. It commemorates the hundreds of witches persecuted and burnt at the stake on that site.