Week 13 – The Final Week of Witchfinding

This week has been my last week working as the Witchfinder General. Therefore, I have spent the week trying to finish as much of my work as possible. I have been mainly getting ready to present my work at different events and getting the website finished.


Next Tuesday (03/09/19) I will be presenting all of the work that has been done for this project at the ALT conference that is being held in Edinburgh this year! So I spent the start of the week creating a poster that will be presented at the conference. I have created a few posters for different university presentations previously, so I had an idea of how to make a good poster. I created the poster using Microsoft Powerpoint with screenshots of many of the different visualisations which have been produced during this project with little text.

I have also been writing what I plan to say during my five minute presentation, so I just need to practice presenting and then I’ll be ready for my first conference presentation.

Aside from the conference, I’ll also be presenting my findings at a two hour public seminar at the University of Edinburgh on the 11th of September from 2 – 4pm.

If you are interested in attending the seminar, you can sign up – here.

As the seminar is longer, I have been able to produce a more extensive presentation that includes a great amount of detail about the process of locating the residences of accused witches, uploading content to Wikidata and visualising the results. Writing this presentation has gave me a great opportunity to completely reflect on the process that the project has gone through in order to complete this leg of the project. My presentation should be around 30 minutes in total which will be exciting as I have never presented for that long before. I think it’ll be great to have more presentation practice and be able to share the process that I have gone through this summer.

Website Edits

As this is my final week of the internship, I also had to ensure that the website was at a satisfactory standard to be shared with the public. I looked through all of the pages for any obvious mistakes and then added any extra visualisations that had been produced such as bubble-charts. I am also becoming less intimidated by HTML which is making the process a little easier.

The bubble-charts are a very interesting visualisation that can be easily produced using the query service to calculate different counts of the data such as querying for different occupations. The query will then display the different values for each occupation and these can be visualised as a bubble-chart with the larger the circle, the larger the number.

The website now looks really impressive and will officially be made public on the 11th of September.

Project Reflections

It has been amazing to see just how much can be done in the space of three months, taking a static database and bringing it to life with so many interesting visualisations.

When I started the internship, I was overwhelmed by everything that could be done and the locating of the 822 place-names seemed almost impossible. But the majority of the place-names were easier than I thought to find and it was great to have so many people interested in helping me find the final few. If people were to do a similar project of finding place-names in Scotland, I think that my technique could be easily adapted. My geography of Scotland is also now x100 better than before seeing that before the internship I had barely even heard of Haddington and now I know that it is the witch capital of Scotland.

I also think that we have managed to use the three months very wisely and have been able to do far more that what I could be possible.

The project has also been a great opportunity to test what OpenRefine, Wikidata’s Query Service and ArcGIS Online are capable of by pushing them to their limits. The results have been very impressive with OpenRefine being a great software for uploading edits to Wikidata and working with large datasets. While the Query Service has allowed for data to be quickly queried even if very complicated and basic visualisations can be produced. ArcGIS Online (although not perfect) has been great at creating many different types of visualisations and having the resources there to allow for more advanced map making.

There is now a wealth of data from the Survey of Scottish Witchcraft uploaded onto Wikidata and the database itself has been further enriched by being geo-located.

Not only does the project help highlight the power of data science but also shows the capability of Wikidata to aid in the making of all of the different visualisations. Before the project, I had barely heard of Wikidata and by the end I have probably become more familiar with it than any software I have used over my degree (with lots of help from many people) and I hope to use it more in the future.

I think that there is still so much that can be done with this dataset and I hope that it gets used again in the future for other projects.

Please go to onto to see the final website to view all of the different visualisations – witches.is.ed.ac.uk





Add yours →

  1. Quite a witchy witchfinder working here. Thank you for your work. This is a very interesting project, I am sure I will get back to it frequently (I am not a student, so also thank you for telling your story so that anyone can understand it)

  2. Corey P Chiaramonte 25th September 2019 — 4:13 am

    Hello from America. My family are Clark’s likely associated with Clan Cameron that immigrated to America early 1700s. Second sight is something that runs in our family and clan. Do you suppose that many of these poor witches might have had this gift and were killed for it? I am working on a theory along these lines. Your work is amazing! The Clark’s were supposedly a clergy or a spiritual clan… my theory is they always had the second sight and were used as seers until the dawn of Scot Christianity…then converted to save their hides… Let me know if you have any ideas. Thanks.

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