It is one of the most astonishing monuments in the British Isles, never mind Scotland. Deep in the Perthshire countryside stands a cairn of boulders topped with a tall, spindly cross, the stones painted with the stark words:
1657 as a Witch
There is nothing like it anywhere: a historic monument to a named witch. There is, it is true, the occasional plaque here and there in Scotland to the events of the witchcraft era; but these are modern remembrances, created out of modern sensibilities. The Maggie Wall monument, by contrast, is old.
And it is mysterious. Questions abound. Who was Maggie Wall? What happened to her? Why, of all the witches executed, does she alone have a monument? Why is there a cross on the top? Is the monument a sepulchre (that is, it marks a place of burial) or a cenotaph (a memorial without a grave)? Who built it? When? And why?
Geoff Holder digs deep to find answers.