Witches were feared and sought out in the days of Burns and their place in Ayrshire folklore is reflected in many of Burns’ works.
In a time of ignorance and prejudice, many innocent women (and men) were burned or drowned in the name of the Church.
On occasions, personal vengeance could be satisfied by false accusations of witchery against the unsuspecting victim, whose inability to survive the torture and trials that followed, was proof, if needed, of their guilt.
“But Maggie stood, right sair astonish’d, Till, by the heel and hand admonish’d, She ventur’d forward on the light; And, wow! Tam saw an unco sight!
Warlocks and witches in a dance: Nae cotillon, brent new frae France, But hornpipes, jigs, strathspeys, and reels, Put life and mettle in their heels."