Scotland Is Seeking the Bones of a 300-Year-Old Witch

Lilias Adie died in 1704
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 3, 2019 12:05 PM CDT
Scotland Wants Bones That Were in Its Only Witch's Grave
Lilias Adie.   (University of Dundee)

Scotland has a single witch's grave. Only the bones that were placed there in 1704 aren't there anymore, and local officials are hoping to finally get them back. The Washington Post reports that Lilias Adie was arrested 315 years ago after she was accused of calling upon Satan to cast a spell on a female neighbor. Adie ultimately confessed to being a witch and sleeping with the devil and died in prison—possibly by suicide—before she was to be burned at the stake. She was buried near the sea in the county Fife, her grave covered with a sizable stone to thwart any attempts she might make to rise from the dead. The grave was raided in 1852, and now Fife officials are asking for tips that will lead them to Adie's bones so that they might be properly buried.

Archaeologist Douglas Speirs managed to track down the now-empty grave five years ago along Torryburn Bay. He tells the Post that Adie was a "celebrity for a time" after her death, so much so that one of her coffin pieces that was fashioned into a walking stick ended up in the hands of Andrew Carnegie. Adie's skull passed hands a number of known times, from an antiquarian to the Fife Medical Association to the University of St. Andrews. It last appeared in 1938 in an exhibit in Glasgow. The Scotsman reports photos were taken of it prior to that exhibition and used to create a facial reconstruction of her that was revealed in 2017. Speirs tells CNN Adie was in her late 50s or early 60s when she died, and that her death was preceded by "rough" treatment in prison, including frequent interrogations and sleep deprivation. (More archaeology stories.)

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