A PUBLIC discussion in Dunfermline will ask why Scotland was more swept up in finding witches than almost any other country in Europe.

An all-day event in the Glen Pavilion, chaired by writer and broadcaster Lesley Riddoch, will look at our brutal past and the stories of those who were persecuted and killed so long ago.

‘Remembering Scotland’s Witches’ on Sunday, May 19, will discuss West Fife's own dark history, when those who were found guilty of being witches were hanged and burned near Townhill.

The passing of the Scottish Witchcraft Act in 1563 made witchcraft, or consulting with witches, crimes punishable by death.

It’s estimated that between 3,000-5,000 women were publicly accused in 16th and 17th century Scotland, a much higher number than England.

Seventy-five per cent of the accused were women and about two-thirds were killed.

Hundreds of villages across Scotland have stones, wells, monuments, glens and places of execution connected with this eruption of witch-finding zeal.

In Dunfermline, the upper end of Townhill Road where those thought to have evil powers were executed was once known as Witch Loan.

And the street off Bellyeoman Road, named Witchbrae, is a small reminder of days gone by.

The gallows were located just outside the town’s boundaries, a small hill called Witch Knowe, roughly where the road turns onto Kingseat Road today, as it was believed this would prevent the vengeful spirits of those executed from wreaking revenge on the townspeople.

Workshops and talks at the event will give people a chance to hear about local women who were accused, including Lillias Adie, the Torryburn witch. She died in jail before her trial and was buried on the beach next to the village – the large slab covering her body, to stop her rising from the grave, was uncovered in 2014.

The event will combine the academic knowledge of Julian Goodare and Louise Yeoman (co-authors of the Survey of Scottish Witchcraft), Dr Lizanne Henderson (author of 'Witchcraft and Folklore in the age of enlightenment') with the expertise of locals who’ve tried to piece together the real stories of the women, and some men, persecuted so long ago.

Thought-provoking and informative, it will also ask whether commemorations or memorials should be erected for the women who were believed to have supernatural powers and put to death.

The aim is to explore the history of the witch trials and understand more about 17th century Scotland, while also looking at how witchcraft has been expressed through art, poetry and nature, and how data is presented on Wikipedia and many other related topics.

It's on from 10am to 4pm and has been organised by local voluntary group Fife Witches Remembered, with the assistance of Fife Cultural Trust.

Tickets, which cost £7, are available online at eventbrite.co.uk/e/remembering-scotlands-accused-witches-tickets-58574751659 or from the reading room at Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries.