History of Britain - Changing Lives


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9.Pendle Witches

What do the witch-hunts of the early 17th century tell us about changes in village life in the early modern period? (6.75 mins)

10.Iron and Industry
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1700 - 1781 next video 10/17next

iconChapter Breakdown

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1. What does the obscure story of the Pendle Witches reveal about early 17th century society?
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2. Extracting truth from this fantastical story: a tragic tale of women on the margins.
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3. The long view: what happened in Pendle as a consequence of the slow breakdown of the traditional village unit.
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4. The short view: unemployment, a migrant population, and the impact of the Poor Laws.
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5. The persecution of so-called 'witches' explained by one contemporary observer.

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iconLocation details


We shot the entirety of this module in Newchurch-in-Pendle in Lancashire. There's not much to see in the village. "Witches Galore", the gift shop, keeps alive the memory of the witch-hunts. Check out the 'eye of God' in the west side of the church tower.


Pendle Hill sits oppressively overhanging the landscape, in the southwest corner of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

This was where George Fox, the founder of the Quaker movement, had a 'visitation' - it's the perfect environment for such other-worldly goings on...


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