The tragic tale of the Pendle witches is now remembered by a somber statue of witch-hunt victim Alice Nutter.
In the Pendle area of the United Kingdom two families once lived in the shadow of a foreboding hill. The matriarchs of the two families were known as “Old Demdike” and “Old Chattox” and both clans were very obvious outsiders in the small community surrounding them. This alienation reached a fever pitch in 1612 after a succession of strange occurrences such as deaths and stolen sheep were blamed on the weird folk from the hill. The fate of the two families was finally sealed when a villager had an unfortunate stroke in the presence of some of the accused women. The law came down swift and hard, and ten of the family members were executed at nearby Lancaster castle, having been found guilty of the spurious charge of witchcraft.
Today, Alice Nutter’s statue stands shackled, well on her way to the trial which would end her young life. The statue itself is located in the village of Roughlee, at the foot of the hill where the two families once lived. Alice herself was hanged, based on the testament of a nine-year old girl. Yet now Nutter’s unfortunate death can serve as a reminder of the dangers of fanatical judgement.
Visit England with Atlas Obscura Trips
London Science Weekend: Medicine and Science in the Press
Join New York Times Journeys and Atlas Obscura for three days of scientific learning, special access and exploration in London. Accompanied by Times journalists and scientific experts, meet people contributing to the history of medicine and scientific journalism. This two-track program includes panels, exclusive visits and access to some of the best scientific minds available to concentrate on science reporting or medical history.