The Last Witch

In the Churchyard of Balmaclellan Church in South West Scotland, you’ll find an unmarked stone. Some say it is just a standing stone, folklore says it marks the resting place of Elspeth McEwen, the last witch to be executed in Scotland. She was strangled and burned in Kirkcudbright in 1698.  

Ah!, there ye are, fun ye at last,
an in consecrated grun an aw!
Here’s an irony, when ye think o’ it,
tae be burned as a witch, an yet
buried among guid Christian folk!
Reeks o’ hypocrisy, reeks o’ guilt!

They blamed ye fir the lack o’ milk,
they blamed ye fir the lack o’ eggs,
sade ye made a horse sweat bluid.
Carted ye aff tae Kirkcudbright jile,
held ye fir twa years, till yer misery
made ye confess tae end it aw.

Ye wir’nae a witch Elspeth, ye wir
an excuse, a pair buddy tae blame
whun things went wrang. Why pick
on you?, wha kens, but they burnt ye
in the en, condemned ye tae flames
fir fauts that wir really thir ain.

Could’nae bring themselves tae carve
yer name, as if it wid min them
o yer innocence, o the nonsense
thir version o God demanded.
Yer blank stane says mair than wirds,
The yins that pit ye here wir guilty,

an they kent it!

Derek Ross

fun = found, grun = ground, guid = good, sade = said, fir = for,  bluid = blood, jile = jail, tae = to, aw = all, wir’nae = weren’t, buddy = person, kens = knows, en = end, fauts = faults, thir = their, could’nae = couldn’t, wid = would, min = remind, stane = stone, mair = more, wirds = words, yins = ones, pit = put, kent = knew 

By photos,poetry and haiku by Derek Ross

I am a photographer/ poet from Dumfries in South West Scotland. I concentrate on minimalist images and prefer using an iPhone these days. As far as my writing is concerned, I usually write short poems (some in Scots dialect), hence my interest in haiku and related forms.


  1. A very trenchant poem about scapegoating. In addition to honoring Elspeth, it’s a good metaphor for what’s happening in the political arena these days. (I’m pleased that I was able to read and understand it without referring to the glossary.)

    Liked by 1 person

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