The craze for witch hunts in Europe in the 16th century was as brutal as it was bloody. It is estimated that over a period of about 200 years, about 40,000 women, men and even children were executed for the “crime” of witchcraft. Agnes Sampson was one of those victims, and now it is rumored that her ghost haunted the halls of Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh.
Agnes Sampson was a midwife and healer at the end of the 16th century who used her knowledge of herbal remedies and related (sometimes questionable) medical procedures for the sake of benevolence. Besides, she was so expert that many attributed supernatural or paranormal powers to her. But at that time, Scotland was a deeply superstitious place with mass fears regularly triggered by alleged evil forces.
Agnes’ssuccess as a midwifeandhealerwas fatal, as shequicklybecame an easytarget for extremistfanatics, while in addition, atthat moment, a waveofreligiousfervorswepttheworldaway. Scotland in the 1590s, Agnès wasquicklyaccusedofhavingmade a dealwiththedevilandfoundherself in a group of about 100 suspects, whowerearrested for practicingwitchcraft in NorthBerick.Agneshasfiercelydeniedthe accusations againsther.
Unfortunately for AgnesSampson, JamesVIofScotlandtook a particularinterest in his case.Shewasbroughtto a councilofhernobilityandwasinterrogatedfiercely.Agnes’srefusaltosubmittotheking’s accusations weakensthemonarch.Shewas, by consent, admittedto a dungeonwhereshewasbrutallytortureduntil a so-called confession wasfinallyextracted.
Remarkably, Agnes could withstand her ordeal without confessing for days. However, after being shaved all the hair, she was forced to stand naked, fixed against a wall by a painful mouthpiece known as “Witch’s Bride”, an iron instrument with four sharp teeth placed in the mouth, two pressed against the cheeks and two against the tongue, preventing any movement of the mouth and all speech She stood like that for days without sleep or sustenance. Despite this inhuman treatment, Agnes maintained her innocence, begging for her freedom.
FrustratedbyAgnes’sresilienceto torture, theguardsdecidedtoincreasetheir torture androlled out the use of a tourniquet. In thehourfollowingthesettingoftherope, Agnès confessedtothe multitude of charges shehasbeenaccusedof.Afterthis, shewasremovedfromhercelltobetiedto a stakeandthenslowlyburneduntilshedied, thecommonfateofthosewhowereaccusedofwitchcraft.
The execution of Agnes Sampson was only one tragedy among other thousands of cases that took place during this witch hunt in Scotland. Her sad story became particularly important, not least because her tormented ghost, often seen running through the corridors of Holyrood Palace, where she was tortured, naked and bald.
Agnès’ observations date from the time of his execution to the present day. One of the most recent observations would have been in 2014, when a maintenance man was working late, trying to repair a faulty lock. He says he saw the ghost of Agnes appear at the end of a well-lit corridor and she would have walked in her direction with slow, dying movements. Surprised, the worker let out a cry of terror but at that moment, she had already disappeared ….
Another observation of Agnès issupposedto have taken place in the 1990s during a visitbytheGermanChancellor.Accordingto sources, thewitnesswas a youngGermandiplomat, whowasseencoming out offearofthe office hehadjustentered.Whenthepeoplewithhimaskedwhatwaswrong, herepliedthathehadseen a nakedand transparent spectral formfloating in themiddleoftheroomwithhisarmsoutstretchedlike a horrormovie.
AgnesSampsonwas an exemplarymidwifeandhealer, whodedicatedherlifetotryingtohelpothersthroughherwisdom. For thisreason (perhaps), shewasdenounced as a witch, stripped, shaved, torturedandfinallyburnedtodeath.HisghostwillsurelyhaunttheHolyrood Palace forever, in perpetualtorment.