Burning the Witch

“Burning the Witch”—A BONFIRE custom, in which a witch is burned in effigy on Halloween. Perhaps the most famous recorded example is a celebration held at Balmoral during the reign of Queen Victoria. A huge bonfire was kindled in front of the castle, and as the bonfire gained in intensity it was approached by clansmen in Highland dress. The clansmen marched around a cart that held the effigy of a horrid old witch called the Shandy Dann (actually a bastardized form of “Shan-dre-dan,” the type of trolley or cart). At a dozen yards or so from the blaze, a pronouncement on the witch’s guilt was made, and then both trolley and effigy were hurled into the fire. The entire performance was said to have been greatly enjoyed by the queen herself.


The Halloween Encyclopedia Second Edition written by Lisa Morton © 2011 Lisa Morton. All rights reserved