The “Calder Witches” were at one time as proverbial in this country as the Lancashire witches in England

On the 13th of April 1643 the Calder kirk-session appointed a new minister, 22-year-old Hew Kennedie. Almost as soon as he was ordained Kennedie, along with local nobleman Sir William Sandilands and kirk bailie James Sandilands, began a ferocious mission to eradicate witchcraft from Calder parish. 

Over the next two years ordinary parishioners were humiliated, imprisoned and tortured for what we now know was an impossible crime. At least five women were executed: strangled and burned at the stake on Cunnigar Hill at Mid Calder. All the accused at Calder were women and the witch hunt crossed local boundaries to involve people from Carnwath and South Leith parishes.

The people who were accused were not witches, they were ordinary local folk caught up in a process outwith their control that led to barbaric treatment and death.