The Pendle witch trials took place in 1612 in Pendle, Lancashire, England, and became famous mainly due to the unprecedented detail of records that were kept about the trials. Twelve people were accused of murdering ten local people by means of witchcraft. Of the eleven who went to trial, nine women and two men were executed by hanging and only one was cleared of the crime.
Despite witch trials being common practice between the 15th and 18th century, less than five hundred people are recorded as being officially executed in England for their witchcraft crimes - although less official figures exist of those who died during the often cruel and brutal inquisitions.
Like the Salem trials, small community politics and commercial rivalry played a big part in the communities accusations of the 'witches'. However, in this case, many of the accused had actually added fuel to the fire by using the commerciality of witchcraft for their own financial gain, claiming to have healing powers and charging for other forms of quackery.
The Pendle Witch Trial was originally more a tale of politics, money and fraud than supernatural powers, but over the years, a rich tapestry of folklore has grown up around the case and many believe that the homes they inhabited, and the site of the nefarious, Malkin Tower, a meeting point for the 'coven', which was located on the wild heathlands near Pendle, became haunted - with some even claiming they became the portals to Hell.
Now, the village of Pendle boasts a thriving tourist industry around the folklore of the Pendle Witches, one which was boosted considerably by the 2004 special live weekend edition of Most Haunted in which several paranormal events were captured on film during a live broadcast from some of the locations identified in the original records. With several of the film crew, and members of other paranormal investigative teams having reportedly been harmed when attempting to investigate the legends, Pendle has well and truly become a far richer tale of the supernatural.
You can catch up with the episode of Most Haunted at Pendle here but be warned, it is pretty full on, and do heed their own warning that it isn't suitable for younger viewers.
The legend of the Pendle Witches was a major influence on my series, 'The Meadowsweet Chronicles' and the location of Pendle played a big part in the formation of my village for the series, Heargton.
Book one of the Meadowsweet Chronicle is currently on FREE download and you can get your copy over at iBooks, Amazon and all other major eBook platforms.