In March 1704 Patrick Morton, a 16-year-old blacksmith in the coastal Fife town of Pittenweem, claimed to have found a witch's spell left at his door -- a wooden bucket containing a fire coal and some water. At once he felt ill, or so he said -- he could barely stand, had no appetite, became emaciated. In May he started to have fits. Morton accused several local women of tormenting him by witchcraft, setting off a witch-hunt reminiscent of the Middle Ages, dragging innocent women and men into a snare of repression and death.
The Weem Witch tells the story of the Pittenweem witches, using contemporary documents to bring a horrifying episode in Scotland's past under the spotlight.
Leonard Low was born in Fife, in Upper Largo, in 1967, and moved to London in 1988 for a career of film-set building and painting. As he is colour blind, his pictures have been classified and sold as very unusual pieces of work. Lenny has long been fascinated by local history in his area of Fife, and has run heavily-subscribed 'Weem Witch' tours in Pittenweem. He lives in Leven -- and he has a passion for East Fife FC.
'The most complete account yet of the suffering inflicted upon the
unfortunate victims of the anti-witch hysteria which gripped local
communities in the 17th and 18th centuries ... the story of Janet Cornfoot
forms the centrepiece of this remarkable investigation ... Through
first-hand accounts recorded at the time, Leonard Low has pieced together a
detailed picture of Janet's last hours at Pittenweem Harbour, and it doesn't
make for comfortable reading. But it's this remarkable attention to detail
which makes "The Weem Witch" such a compelling read. Leonard carefully
describes the political, religious and economic factors which fuelled the
witchhunts ... Leonard, who hails from Upper Largo, said he was driven to
write the book by a desire to commemorate these forgotten scapegoats. And
the remarkable stories he has uncovered are fascinating, enriched as they
are by a dense assortment of facts and personal accounts which are as
gripping as they are enlightening ... the political turmoil brought about
by the Act of Union meant these scandals were forgotten. Until now!'
-- East Fife Mail
'Aims to drag these shameful stories out of the darkest corners of the Neuk's hidden past ... a terrible reminder of a world gone mad'
-- Dundee Courier
'According to Len's book, Pittenweem had three fairly well documented major outbreaks -- in 1643, 1644 and 1704 -- the latter resulting in a particularly brutal murder ... Readers of the book will discover more for themselves, but it's certainly a terrible tale.'
-- St Andrews Citizen
'The shocking story of a grim witchhunt in the small Scottish coastal town of Pittenweem ... a grisly story of the hysteria about witchcraft which existed in the 18th century.'
-- Hornsey and Crouch End Journal
'Leonard Low's relentless and brutal account leaves nothing to the imagination. With a self-confessed love of horror, Low has taken historical manuscripts, listened to the local lore, unearthed the woeful truth and added a large dose of his own inventiveness to come up with a spell-binding story of ignorance, fear and a world gone mad.'
-- Dumfries and Galloway Standard