iPlayer Radio What's New?
Listen
On Now : Afternoon on 3
Playing: Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis by Vaughan Williams, Ralph
Image for Episode 3

Sorry, this episode is not currently available on BBC iPlayer Radio

Episode 3

Duration:
15 minutes
First broadcast:
Wednesday 12 October 2011

Now it's time to step inside the interrogation room in one of the most famous cases of all. In the spring of 1662, in Auldearn in north east Scotland, the peasant woman, Isobel Gowdie, was interrogated for witchcraft. Her confessions, made over a six-week period were studded with startling revelations of the fairy world, shot-through with folklore and charms and well-told anecdotes. They have been arresting the imagination of writers and scholars and artists for hundreds of years. They would even give birth to one of Scotland's best-known orchestral pieces: James Macmillan's 'The Confession of Isobel Gowdie'. But if you ask a witchcraft scholar like Dr Emma Wilby of Exeter University what's so remarkable about those confessions (apart from 'everything'), it's the way Isobel's own voice seems to come through to such an extent that we can begin to disentangle her from her interrogators, that we can begin to see the alchemy behind this unique confession, and to meet Isobel herself, who appears for us through her own words read by the actor Gerda Stevenson.

Broadcasts

Free downloads

  1. Image for Music and Culture of WW1

    Music and Culture of WW1

    Highlights of BBC Radio 3’s special programmes to mark the WW1 centenary. Classical music, art,…

  2. Image for Radio 3 Essay

    Radio 3 Essay

    Authored essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond,…

  3. Image for Spirit of Schubert

    Spirit of Schubert

    BBC Radio 3 tells you everything you need to know about Franz Schubert. These free downloads will…

Buy online

Available on: Audio download

From one supplier: iTunes

Where to buy

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.