North Berwick was famous for its witch trials at which over a hundred witches were accused. It all started because James VI, while returning from Denmark in a ship, was hit by a storm. Many of them confessed under torture to meeting the Devil and attempting to sink the ship, and were burned. It was reputed that witches sailed to sea in a sieve. Or as Shakespeare wrote in Macbeth:
“Aroint thee, witch!” the rump-fed runnion cries.
Her husband’s to Aleppo gone, master o' th'Tiger;
But in a sieve I’ll thither sail,
And like a rat without a tail,
I’ll do, I’ll do, and I’ll do.
© Sylwia Kowalczyk and Simon Crofts