Crossroads and Characters
4. THE MYSTERY OF MAGGIE WALLS.
In the witch-hunts of the 17th century, there are several authenticated reports of Dunning people being convicted as witches and warlocks and then either strangled and burned, usually at nearby Kincladie Wood, or drowned, in the river Earn.
But the case of Maggie Walls is mysterious in several ways.
This monument stands west of the village and marks where a Maggie Walls (or Wall as it is sometimes spelled) was allegedly burned as a witch in 1657, supposedly the last person so executed in Scotland. In fact, she was not the last. Besides cases documented elsewhere, six people were put to death in Dunning for witchcraft in 1663.
One part of the mystery is who was Maggie Walls, and why this monument to her should be marked with a cross, for presumably she would be regarded by her persecutors as a non-Christian. Indeed why is there a monument to her at all, for there is no parallel monument which we know of elsewhere to anyone so executed? One opinion is that those who killed her repented of their action and tried to make redress by erecting this cairn.
Whatever the reason for the monument, the lettering on it is anonymously renewed each year, probably by local women.
A grisly postscript to the Maggie Walls story occurred in 1966. lan Brady and Myra Hindley were tried and convicted in Lancashire for the murders of several children. It was said during this 'Moors Murders' trial that the accused were fascinated by witchcraft, and in the News of the World appeared a photo of them taken by a friend on a Scottish holiday a few years earlier, posed by the Dunning monument to Maggie Walls.
What was especially chilling was the fact the two were also suspected of having murdered children in the western part of Scotland. This was never proven, the photograph at Maggie Walls' monument being the only evidence linking them to Scotland.
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