Dornoch kids report on trial of Janet Horne – witch or not?
There was a packed house in the Dornoch Council Chambers when the premiere of the film entitled Reporting Dornoch was shown to a specially invited audience.
The film featured the story of Janet Horne of Loth who was the last person in Scotland to be burned as an alleged witch.
It was the work of the members of the Historylinks Young Curators Club.
The club was set up in April of this year in an effort to encourage youngsters to take an interest in local history.
The children researched the story of Janet Horne and then discussed who they would like to interview if they could travel back in time to 1727 and find out more about the woman herself.
Their mission was to discover if she really was innocent or guilty of witchcraft.
They went on to write the script and then most of the filming took place in various parts of the town throughout the school summer holidays.
The film was made in the form of a TV report featuring an anchor man in the studio and time-travelling reporters who interviewed the characters involved back in 1727.
These interviewees, all in period dress, included Janet’s daughter, her sister, her husband, the witch hunter, the deputy sheriff and several other “locals”.
The final character to be interviewed was the ghost of Janet Horne.
This filming took place at what had been the scene of the execution at Littletown in Dornoch.
The production of the film was overseen by Caroline Seymour who runs the Young Curators Club with the help of volunteers.
The amazing costumes were created by Historylinks curator Lynne Mahoney and made from all sorts of items including old curtains.
The filming, sound recording and editing was all done by Peter Wild.
The invited audience consisted of Historylinks committee members and parents, relatives and friends of the children.
Such was the interest that the audience included many grandparents, including some who had travelled from as far as Crail in Fife especially for the event.
At the conclusion of the film a series of “out-takes” were shown which caused great hilarity. These included scenes which were supposedly in 1727 but interrupted by traffic noise, jet aircraft using the range at Tain and mobile phones ringing!
After the showing of the film the cast were presented with “Oscars” to show how well they had all performed.
As with all successful movies, the question now being asked is: Might there be a sequel?
* Janet Horne was the last person in Britain to be tried and executed for witchcraft.
In 1727 she and her daughter were arrested and jailed in Dornoch. Her crimes, according to her neighbours, were devilish;
she was accused of turning her daughter into a pony, and of getting Satan himself to shoe the horse/girl.