313 years on, face of ‘witch’ is fi­nally re­vealed

Irish Independent - - News - Conor Rior­dan

THE face of an 18th cen­tury ‘witch’ who died in jail be­fore she could be burned for her ‘crimes’ has been dig­i­tally re­con­structed.

Lil­ias Adie, from Tor­ry­burn, Fife, in Scot­land, died in 1704 while held in prison for her “con­fessed” crimes of be­ing a witch and hav­ing sex with the devil.

BBC Ra­dio Scot­land un­masked her face by work­ing with a foren­sic artist at the Cen­tre for

Anatomy and Hu­man Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion at the Univer­sity of Dundee.

The team be­lieves it is likely to be the only ac­cu­rate like­ness of a Scot­tish ‘witch’ in ex­is­tence as most were burned, de­stroy­ing any hope of re­con­struct­ing their faces from skulls.

Pre­sen­ter Su­san Morrison said: “It was a truly eerie mo­ment when the face of Lil­ias sud­denly ap­peared.”

Ms Adie had been sen­tenced to be burned to death but died in prison be­fore­hand, with one the­ory be­ing she com­mit­ted sui­cide.

Her re­mains were buried on the beach be­tween the low and the high tide marks un­der a large stone.

Lo­cals had sought to weigh down Ms Adie in her grave, per­haps to pre­vent her com­ing back to haunt them.

By the 19th cen­tury, sci­en­tific cu­rios­ity out­weighed zom­bie fears and some an­ti­quar­i­ans dug up Ms Adie’s re­mains to study and dis­play.

Her skull even­tu­ally went to the St An­drews Univer­sity Mu­seum, where it was pho­tographed more than 100 years ago.

It then went miss­ing at some point in the 20th cen­tury but the im­ages re­main and are held by the Na­tional Li­brary of Scot­land.

The records of her ac­cusers paint a pic­ture of a woman, pos­si­bly in her 60s, who may have been frail for some time, with fail­ing eye­sight.

‘Pen­ny­wise’, played by Fran Min­ter, scares Cindy O’Hal­lo­ran (7) from Gar­ry­owen, Lim­er­ick, at the Hal­loween Hol­i­day Hor­ror Fun at Bun­ratty Cas­tle and Folk Park, Clare. Photo: Brian Arthur A dig­i­tally re­con­structed face of 18th cen­tury ‘witch’ Lil­ias Adie as she might have ap­peared.

Photo: Press As­so­ci­a­tion

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