David Penney is absolutely right in his description of the Pendle Witches story and the issues surrounding it. Rather than be a story of the dark arts, it was one of religious persecution, bigotry and mass hysteria.
The commemoration of the 400th anniversary is not, therefore, an abuse or a disgraceful episode in the sense that David describes it, but rather a respectful acknowledgement of historic events. As Horrible Histories on TV has pointed out so eloquently, one can make history so much more real, alive and meaningful by also making it accessible to all.
Our mission in Pendle has always been to balance the historic facts with contemporary marketing of the actual towns and landscape in which they took place. Our visitors, many of whom are cyclists and walkers, rave about our spectacular scenery and hospitality, which supports the local economy and provides jobs.
Rather than promote walking up Pendle Hill in the dark on Hallowe’en, we have always encouraged alternative commemorations of the Witches and will be doing so throughout 2012.
After all, where would Nottingham be without Robin Hood? The Witches are part of our heritage and, therefore, for the very reasons that David mentions, should not be forgotten.
Tourism & Community Initiatives Manager,