“Creative” Microhistories, Difficult Heritage, And “Dark” Public History: The Islandmagee Witches (1711) Project

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This article charts a decade-long project on the trial of the Islandmagee witches in County Antrim (Northern Ireland) in 1711. The project comprised three overlapping and connected phases that negotiated a pathway between researching the history of the trial, its interpretative representation in public discourse, and finding impactful ways to bring this research to wider audiences. It demonstrates that creatively and carefully pitched, microhistories of specific trials can fruitfully add to key historiographical debates in witchcraft studies but when combined with sustained, targeted dissemination and co-produced and collaborative public history, it can open up hidden, but important parts of cultural history and dark heritage to wider audiences. This is especially important in countries such as Northern Ireland that have largely overlooked their witch hunting past and where public remembrance and commemoration of witch trials can be difficult and provoke controversy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-130
Number of pages22
JournalPreternature: Critical and Historical Studies on the Preternatural
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Mar 2022

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Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Pennsylvania State University, University Park.


  • Anthropology
  • History
  • Cultural Studies
  • dark heritage
  • microhistory
  • Islandmagee witches
  • Ireland
  • difficult heritage
  • public history


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