Widdershins is my debut historical novel, which was inspired by the 17th century witch trials in Newcastle. These trials are not very well known about outside of the north east of England, which is surprising as 16 people were hanged for witchcraft on a single day, making it one of England’s biggest witch trials.
The people of Newcastle had petitioned the Puritan council to rid the town of witches and so the councillors sent to Scotland for a witchfinder (perhaps there was a skills shortage in Newcastle at the time). It seems the witchfinder was paid twenty shillings per witch found, which might be the earliest example of local authority performance-related pay on record.
If you’re interested in seeing the council accounts, they’re available in the Tyne and Wear Archive, which is kept in the Discovery Museum in Newcastle. Or, you can see the chamberlain’s record online on the archive’s blog (the headline refers to witches being burnt, but in England, they were usually hanged).
For a limited time, you can pick up a Kindle copy of Widdershins from Amazon for only 99p. If you prefer to hold a book in your hand, the paperback is also on special offer at £6.60. But be quick because the offer won’t last for long…
And watch this space for news of the sequel, Sunwise, which is due out in the spring.
Best wishes, Helen