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Sage Counsel from Salem

Alison D'Amario as Guest in Prestonpans

Alison D'Amario has Scottish ancestors and has held office as Director of Education in Salem, Mass. for full score years. As such few could be more appropriate to share their experiences and to comment on our own plans in The Pans to honour the memory of the tragic lessons taught in the 17th Century as 81 so called witches were disgracefully executed in the name of the law with many also linked with the crime of treason.

The Prestonpans 'team' leading the further development of the annual remembrance each Hallowe'en [which commenced with overwhelming worldwide awareness and interest in 2004 with the Pardon from The Barons' Courts just prior to their abolition] were all assembled to learn the most likely pitfalls and what for Salem had been most successful. Roy Pugh, the leading chronicler of witchcraft trials in East Lothian also attended.

Start Right and Stop it Running Away with Itself

The consensus was that the Prestonpans' strategy to focus on the Pardon rather than on ghoulish aspects including the horrific torture instruments employed to force confessions was very appropriate. But that holding that perspective was a challenge since most media commentators and editors will normally be seeking sensational angles.

Secondly, Alison D'Amario emphasised how easy it was for the history of the unjust convictions for witchcraft to dominate not just the Arts Festival's own presentations but the very town itself. Few people who have not visited Salem realise it was a seaport with a magnificent maritime history and much fine architecture.

Thirdly, if mishandled the town can become swamped with witch baubles and souvenirs and a haven for contemporary wyken - further unbalancing the perspectives the Arts Festival properly seeks to give for the town.

The Plans for the Pans

The plans that have emerged since October 31st 2004 are designed to become apparent over this year's Hallowe'en Weekend - October 29th/ 31st 2005 - led by Adele Conn, the Montjoye.

[i] A comprehensive analysis of the Witchcraft Trials of 81 people of Prestonpans and vicinity has been prepared by Annemarie Allan for publication in the Historical Series;

[ii] A series of images in the Gothenburg Garden and South Staircase will illustrate the story from Mary Queen of Scots laws to Winston Churchill's final intervention as Prime Minister in 1952 [the photographs below show Andrew Crummy, Murals Group Convenor, in discussion with Alison D'Amario and the whole Team later in the Garden area];

Click on images to enlarge

[iii] Tourists will be encouraged to visit The Prestoungrange Gothenburg to browse [i] above as their overall guide, and then to view [ii] above before reaching the Official Pardon Document that is exhibited at all times. They will be invited to dine in the Bistro from an authentic 17th Century Witches' Menu and quaff the specially created 17th Century style bottled ale.

[iv] Each year 'Pardon' Remembrance events will be produced, being re-enactments, music, plays and films e.g. Arthur Miller's Crucible which has been frequently shown in Salem.

[v] From 2006 an Annual Award to an individual or organisation making an Outstanding Contribution to Humanity most especially through Understanding and Forgiveness will be launched - The Prestonpans 'Pardon' Award

Published Date: May 30th 2005

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