Scottish History

The Survey of Scottish Witchcraft

history of the project  

The idea for the project arose in the late 1990s, when the four project members (Julian Goodare, Lauren Martin, Joyce Miller and Louise Yeoman) began to discuss the possibility of adding, both quantitavely and qualitatively, to the information available on Scottish witches. We realised that we could find additional witches, and also add dramatically to the range of information available about them. Moreover, database technology could be harnessed to process the information in sophisticated ways. A successful funding application was made to the ESRC in 2000.

The project began early in 2001, with Julian Goodare as the project director, Louise Yeoman as co-director, and Lauren Martin and Joyce Miller as full-time researchers. The project team first devised the comprehensive list of database fields and parameters. The database was modelled around a flat-field prototype designed by Michaele Gardner for use in Lauren Martin's Ph.D. dissertation. Ed Dee and Charlotte Moon of the Edinburgh University Computing Services implemented the complicated programming needed for over 300 fields and extremely complex links between tables and records that were needed to capture the complicated processes of denunciation and investigation. Once the design was finalised and tested, the database was populated by basic data compiled in electronic form by Stuart Macdonald, largely derived from the printed work of Christina Larner, Christopher Hyde Lee and Hugh V. McLachlan (see Previous Surveys of Scottish Witchcraft). Lauren Martin and Joyce Miller then conducted the extensive archival research. They finished their research in September 2002 and spent the final few months of the project on data cleaning, database documentation and writing these web pages. Charlotte Moon created the web interfaces and database tools. The Survey was completed and went online in January 2003.

In autumn 2003, with the support of a British Academy small research grant, the researchers were able to make significant improvements to the supplemental information contained in the database about people involved in witchcraft investigation and prosecution. Our list of people involved in the prosecution of witchcraft suspects can now be used as the basis for further inquiry and research.

About the project :

Survey of Scottish Witchcraft,
Scottish History, School of History and Classics,
The University of Edinburgh,
17 Buccleuch Place,
Edinburgh, EH8 9LN

Page last updated by Kaye Brewster
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