Memorial service for Fife woman labelled a witch 300 years ago

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A Fife woman convicted of witchcraft has been remembered in her home town more than 300 years after her death.

Lilias Adie, who was born in the 1630s in Torryburn, was accused by her neighbour of being a witch after they had a disagreement.

After days of horrific torture, she confessed, and before she could be burned at the stake, it is believed she committed suicide in her prison cell.

Lilias was buried on the beach in Torryburn, an d a stone slab placed over the top of her body to stop her spirit haunting the town.

On Saturday, locals and members of the Fife Witches Remembered Facebook group gathered at the grave to pay tribute to her, and all other Scottish men and women who were accused of witchcraft.

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The group hopes to raise awareness of the injustice of such deaths, and create a permanent memorial and historical trail.

Councillor Kate Stewart also hopes that Lilias’ skull, which was taken from her grave and sold to St Andrews University in 1852, can be found and returned to the site. Its last known location was at the Empire Exhibition at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow in 1938.

Deputy Provost, Councillor  Julie Ford, who attended the memorial, said: “The facial recognition that Dundee University did is ingrained in my memory. The work that has been done by everyone is exceptional.

“I think everyone knows about the witch trials of Scotland, but what is particularly sad about Lilias’ case is that it came right at the end of the trials, just before it became illegal to accuse anyone of being a witch.

“It’s sad that her bones are no longer where she was buried. It would be fantastic to get her back home.”

Douglas Speirs, Fife Council’s archaeologist, will talk about the life, death and resurrection of Lilias Adie at Dunfermline Library and Galleries on October 31.