Women who were branded witches and executed in Scotland over 300 years ago suffered Lymes disease, a historian has claimed.
US academic Dr Mary Drymon said those accused of having the Devil’s mark had most probably been bitten by a tick. It comes as Nicola Sturgeon prepares to pardon the thousands of of victims who were accused of witchcraft between the 16th and 18th centuries.
The Witchcraft Act was brought into law in 1563 and remained until 1736.A members bill submitted by Natalie Don MSP has been supported by the First Minister who is expected to issue an official apology when it is passed next year.Dr Drymon, 70, said: “I have looked at the concept of the Devil’s mark and the Witches teat, as it is described in the literature.“It seems that the Devil’s mark is the bull’s eye rash of Lyme disease and the witch’s teat may be the lymphocytoma that sometimes develops after a tick bite.“People talk about finding pins stuck in their skin that mysteriously disappear in time.
An attached tick looks a lot like the head of a handmade 17th century pin and drops off after a bloodmeal.”The lecturer believes King James VI’s obsession with witches was triggered by Anne of Denmark’s treacherous sea journey to Scotland ahead of their marriage.Dr Drymon said: “I think that the level of Lyme disease in Scotland, especially during King James reign and after his bride’s difficult sea journey triggered his severe witch obsession, would have ebbed and flowed based on land use and climate.“The Little Ice Age triggered not only cold periods but both wet and dry conditions, crop failures and famines.“Droughts tend to concentrate ticks in areas where sheep, deer and mice drink water-near creeks and rivers in rural areas.“Those are the areasRead more on dailyrecord.co.uk